Shhh – Silent Hospitals Help Healing

When you have overnight guests in your home, chances are you do all you can to make their stay as comfortable as possible.  In a sense, patients are guests in our “house,” but often they find their overnight accommodations anything but comfortable and restful.

Hospitalized patients often complain “How am I supposed to sleep when…”

My room is close to the nurse’s station and it sounds like a party all night

Keeping in mind that caregivers are human, and humans sometimes talk or laugh loudly, the built-in conflict is obvious.  The patient may be sleepy, but those who work the night shift are trying hard not to be.

I got a new roommate at 2:00 a.m.

Just try sleeping through furniture rearranging, conversation, and of course the obligatory stamping of multiple documents, causing the addressograph machine to be enthusiastically wacked down 25 times out at the nurse’s station.

Carts and equipment squeak up and down the hallway at all hours

My roommate:  (The list is daunting… )

    • Snores
    • Coughs / cries / moans / wanders all night
    • Watches television all night
    • Talks on the phone all night
    • Entertains visitors all night
    • Et., etc.

And who can blame the poor patient?  Everyone agrees that a sojourn to the hospital is anything but restful.  Since our goal is to help patients heal and improve patient satisfaction, what can be done?

Noise Reduction Strategies

  • Install glass around the nurse’s station so the noise reaching patient rooms is minimized
  • Mount sound monitors on the wall that display alerts when noise levels rise
  • Limit overhead and room to room paging
  • Set cell phones and pagers to vibrate
  • Turn down ringers on unit phones
  • Consider piping in white noise during the evening to help mask other sounds
  • Ask maintenance to ensure that all those wheely things going up and down the hallways move quietly, and that doors in patient areas do not bang shut.
  • Give patients headphones for their television sets
  • Offer ear plugs
  • Keep the addressograph machine in an enclosed area – or better yet, use labels on documents for new admissions during the night.
  • While most hospitals are establishing more liberal visitor policies, those policies need to allow enforcement of an expectation of consideration, especially in semi-private rooms and common areas
  • Appoint unit champions to come up with additional noise reduction strategies for their area
  • Place signs on patient floors reminding staff and visitors to use their “inside” voices  – reminders do  help since many people simply don’t realize they are being loud

Sleep deprived people are crabby people; let’s do our best to make everyone’s life a little better by offering any consideration we can to help our patients get the rest they need.