Safety Counts!

A newsletter highlighting safety at Hallmark Health System


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Safety Counts! Vol. 3., No. 9 November/December 2015


Shh! It's quiet time in the hospital

Many studies have shown the positive effects of rest – from increasing productivity to simply catching up on needed sleep.quiethours

But getting needed sleep in a hospital can be difficult. First, noise from monitors, alarms and hallway activity can prevent patients from resting. Research suggests that excessive noise may also contribute to less positive outcomes. Second, clinicians and other staff check on patients often. The result, particularly for ICU patients who are often sicker than most hospitalized patients, is that they are often intensely sleep deprived.

Nurses in the ICU at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford wanted to create a more peaceful environment that promoted healing and improved patient satisfaction. They conducted a three-month pilot program that mandated “quiet time” in the unit from 2-4 p.m. every day. (For adults, the best time to get optimum benefits from napping is early to midafternoon.)

“Lights were turned off or lowered and TVs in patient rooms were turned off,” said Michelle Harrington, BSN, RN, CCRN, interim director of critical care services. “Doors to patient care areas were closed and ‘quiet time’ signs were posted. We also encouraged family members to visit during non-quiet times and asked our lab, radiology and other staff not to do patient testing or examinations unless it was an emergency.”

The positive results spurred the adoption of quiet time throughout Hallmark Health System’s inpatient units.

Quiet time also has patient safety benefits. “Patients who are rested are less likely to have confusion or delirium, which can often occur in ICU patients,” said Harrington. “And they may be able to recover more quickly – for example, getting off a ventilator or getting discharged sooner.”

Another patient safety benefit is that staff, particularly nurses, can take advantage of quiet time to review their plan of care for each patient. “Also, quiet time occurs during shift change,” said Harrington, “so nurses coming on the evening shift can get a focused briefing, without a lot of other interruptions, from those coming off the day shift.”


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