Sleep? In the hospital?

Now that I’ve returned to clinical medicine, this article from US News and World Report seemed appropriately well timed.  When physicians round in the morning, we often ask our patients how their night went and if they slept okay.  Most of the time, they tell us that they had a hard time sleeping – often they wake up due to noise in the hospital or because health care workers are entering their rooms to draw blood or take vitals.  We usually joke that “no one comes to the hospital to get a good night’s rest”, “this is a hospital, not a hotel” or “you come to the hospital to get better, but no one lets you sleep!”

Several measures have been introduced to try to make this better, including patient satisfaction metrics including the level of noise patients experience while in the hospital.  Increasingly, hospitals are paying attention to the noise levels within their halls.  But it seems that waking patients up in the middle of the night to check vitals signs may not only be of minimal value, but may in fact do more harm than intended.

A study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that nearly half of hospitalized patients who are regularly wakened to have vital signs checked fall into extremely low risk categories.  Letting low risk patients sleep may actually be better for their health, and doing so would free up nursing time to be spent on sicker patients or double-checking medications and orders to prevent medical errors.


About justgngr

the ramblings of a medical professional by day, judgmental ginger by night
This entry was posted in annoying, medicine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sleep? In the hospital?

  1. justajeepguy says:

    Duh! They needed a study for this? They would give my mom (I had the same experience) something to help her sleep, like Ambien, and then wake her at least every 4 hours. More often it was more frequent because the various tests, medications and blood draws were not coordinated. It’s amazing how uncommon common sense can be.

  2. sqhc says:

    Reblogged this on Students for Quality Health Care and commented:
    Waking patients in the middle of the night may do more harm than good…

  3. Patient falls causing broken hips are a plague in the hospital. The most effective solution is for nurses to check on patients EVERY HOUR to see if they need assistance to go to the bathroom. Although effective not very conducive to sleep. For the not-so-infirm patient there are now hospital beds that have built in devices to monitor vital signs (no nurse needed) — these beds should be required equipment to let patient’s sleep!

  4. Pingback: Silence really might be golden | You Think You Know

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