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The Hospital Is No Place to Rest

Hospitals are no place to rest, Encompass HealthCare & Wound Medicine, West Bloomfield, Michigan.

The Hospital: No Place to Rest.

Lesson #1: Shhhh!!

If hospital personnel could act like they’re in a library, maybe patients would have a better chance of resting. Surely they are able to either whisper or be silent altogether when they’re surrounded by books. You’d think they could do the same when they’re around sick human beings.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate. Here are some things that woke me up out of a sound sleep one night during a recent hospital stay:

  • (2:35 am right outside my room.) SOMEONE: You going on break? SOMEONE: No, I already went. Had a salad. SOMEONE: Salad? Why on earth would you have a salad? SOMEONE: There are cookies in the lounge. (The conversation went on for about 10 more minutes.)
  • (3:16 am) Beep!…….Beep!…….Beep!……
  • (3:36 am) Beep!……Beep!  Sir, did you (Beep!) need your nurse for something? (Beep!) Oh, let me get your nurse (Beep!).
  • (3:50 am) Beep!…..Beep! I’ll fix that  but let me get your vitals real quick.
  • (3:55 am) (The nurse re-programs the infusion machine and the beeping finally stops.)
  • (4:08 am) Beep!…..Beep!….
  • (4:30 am) PA: Can you open your mouth for me? I need to get your vitals. ME: Someone took my vitals 40 minutes ago. PA: Oh, well, it’s not on your chart. Just let me get them anyway.
  • (5:00 am) I’m from the lab. I just need some blood.

Wow. I felt the hospital pain again just writing that.

First of all, where do hospital workers learn to talk, in helicopters?? I mean, don’t they teach you “shhhh!!” on your first day of work? Patients are trying to sleep. This isn’t a bar it’s a hospital. Keep it down. If it’s after 11pm, patients are definitely trying to sleep. Go somewhere else to talk.

How can this simple, basic directive to keep your voice down be so utterly ignored in hospitals? There is a directive to keep it down, isn’t there?

Second, you nurses and patient assistants know what the beeping is. It’s the dang IV machine. You can hear it whether I press the “Call Nurse” button or not. It’s very distinctive. And, it pierces through all other hospital noises. One IV machine beeping can certainly be heard from any location on the floor. So why don’t you just come and fix it? It’s not going to stop spontaneously even if it’s hurled against the wall. (Trust me on this one.)

(You shouldn’t have put my IV in the crook of my elbow anyway, but that’s an entirely different rant for another day.)

Now about this waking me up every 15 minutes for whatever reason, just knock it off. Enough with the vitals taking. What are you going to do, wake up the resident to tell him I’m 145 over 75? You’ll be wiping up unspeakable things on the GI floor so fast your head will spin.

Okay then, let’s go ahead and talk about “patient-centered care” since it’s quite fashionable for hospitals to claim they practice it.

The IOM (Institute of Medicine) defines patient-centered care as: “Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”

This begs the question, “Are there any patients who prefer to be awakened out of a sound sleep?” And, if a patient values sleep, can clinical decisions be made to not wake him so often to check vitals?

“Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences…”

Respectful of…

Responsive to…

It can be done, but first, hospital workers will have to let go of such phrases as, “that’s the way we’ve always done it here,” “I’m just doing my job,” “this is when the lab wants it done,” “the doctor didn’t write your orders that way,” and “no.”

That’s a good one. How great would it be if patient-centered care included not saying “no” to patients?  Will you let me sleep through the night?  Yes. Can you place my IV in a location that won’t make the machine beep when I bend my elbow?  Yes.

Can you find a place in the hospital other than right outside my door to kick it with your coworker?  Yes.

Ahhh! I’m feeling better already.



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