Hospitals Work To Help Patients Sleep At Night

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A recent Kaiser Health News article highlights a growing area of improvement for hospitals treating patients with injuries ranging from car accident bone fractures to cancer treatment.  Hospitals across the country are striving to make their medical facilities better places to sleep at night.  Currently hospital patients can be kept up by noise, fluorescent hallway lights, vitals checks, medication administration, and timed blood draws.

Dr. Peter Ubel, MD, professor, physician, and behavioral scientist at Duke University, puts the problem simply:

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.’

While the American Hospital Association (AHA) does not directly track figures related to the number of hospitals reviewing patient-sleep policies, AHA spokeswoman Jennifer Schleman is aware that a growing number of hospitals are becoming interested in this area of improvement.

Currently, hospital activities are scheduled around work flow, and the healthcare providers' schedules.  Current top considerations are shift changes and updating information in the morning before doctors do their early morning rounds.  By thinking of ways of balancing these typical considerations with the needs and more specifically, the sleep schedules of the patients, better patient care can be achieved.  

Not only is the push for better patient sleep part of a larger drive to improve how hospitals take care of their patients, but it is fueled in part by measures in the 2010 health law tying some Medicare payments to patient approval scores. As more hospitals try to improve those numbers, experts said, more will likely home in on improving chances for a good night’s sleep.

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