To improve patient satisfaction, hospitals target sleep disruptions

To help patients get a better night's sleep, many providers are working to reduce or reschedule late-night activities, according to CNN.

Providers are seeking solutions to the many obstacles to sleep that hospital patients encounter, according to the article, as well as the poor coordination that exacerbates them in many hospitals.

Simple fixes include giving nurses the option to align medicine administration to patients' sleep schedules, rescheduling floor-washing or creating checklists of tasks that must be completed before 11 p.m., Margaret Pisani, an associate professor at Yale School of Medicine, tells CNN.

Federal patient satisfaction surveys address nighttime noise levels but many hospitals have struggled to improve, said Richard Evans, chief experience officer at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital.

To improve its scores, the hospital implemented "quiet hours" in the afternoon and for up to eight hours at night and told staff not to wake patients unless it's necessary. While the statistical effects of these reforms are hard to pin down, patients have expressed appreciation, he said.

Some research has quantified the benefits. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine found a 49 percent drop in use of sedatives to help patients sleep when hospitals rescheduled nighttime check-ins and medication administration. This approach reduced the risk of side effects associated with sedative use. 

Similarly, New York's Mount Sinai hospital is developing a system to identify which patients would actually benefit from around-the-clock check-ins, according to CNN. Patients with complex conditions or at risk for serious infections should have their vitals checked regularly, even at night, but others can wait until morning, according to Mount Sinai's Rosanne Leipzig, a professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine. The hospital has also looked at widening the intervals for some medication administration from four hours to six, which allows them to schedule four doses a day and avoid waking patients.

A 2013 study found more natural light could improve patient sleeping patterns as well as reduce pain levels, FierceHealthcare previously reported, but factors that have nothing to do with the hospital routine, such as post-operative pain, can also affect sleep.

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