- Lack of sleep is a common complaint among hospital patients.
- The bright lights and the endless barrage of nighttime interruptions for vital signs, medications, blood draws and other procedures leave many patients unable to sleep for more than an hour or two at a time.
- Although there are not a lot of studies that specifically link sleep to quality, doctors say the connection is obvious.
Peter Ubel, a physician and professor at Duke University’s business school, told Kaiser Health News he was surprised at how difficult it was to sleep when he was hospitalized. “There was no coordination,” he said. “One person would be in charge of measuring my blood pressure. Another would come in when the alarm went off, and they never thought, ‘Gee if the alarm goes off, I should also do blood pressure.’”
“From a patient perspective,” he added, “you’re sitting there going, ‘What the heck?’”
Many hospitals are rethinking their nighttime policies in an effort to improve outcomes and patient satisfaction. Some are limiting nighttime check-ins and attempting to better coordinate nighttime medication administration so that patients can get more sleep.
Since some Medicare payments are now linked to patient approval scores, more hospitals are working to improve their numbers. And since the patient approval surveys specifically ask about nighttime noise, hospitals have even more incentive to reduce interruptions while patients are sleeping.