A recent New York Times article reports on how noise in hospitals can affect a patient’s recovery. This is one area that has been somewhat overlooked by hospital staff, but has been a constant complaint of patients. 

The complaints have been largely ignored by hospital administrators and staff because they have believed constantly monitoring a patient is more important than a quieter environment.

However, more focus is being given to patient’s satisfaction of their hospital stay and noise level is constantly a chief complaint. It has been shown that  with every hour of sleep lost, blood pressure increases by up to 6 points. According to the article, companies that make monitors and medical devices are sponsoring research into making quieter, more patient-friendly and sleep-friendly products. There has been improvement made with wireless technology that would not beep in a patient’s room, but instead be channeled to the nurse or doctor in charge. However the concern is what would happen if the hospital’s wireless system went down.

Many hospitals are trying to address the problem by instituting plans like “hush”-Help Us Support Healing or “Shhh”-Silent Hospitals Help Healing.

While it is too early to know if these sleep initiatives will prove successful, it’s now clear that patients complaints about noise and lack of sleep are critical to quality of care.

“Sleep is such a powerful source of resilience”, says Dr. Orfeu Buxton, assistant professor in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Its absence results in a degradation of that resilience. We need to change how we view noise and sleep. We need to begin grouping sleep with all the other things we do to make patients better.”






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