Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sleep Deprivation & Hospitals

One of the chief ways to induce mental confusion in people is to deprive them of sleep. Nefarious regimes use it to great effect, from what I read. Anyone who wonders if sleep-deprivation can be torture needs to have a baby. Post-partum depression can be caused by sleep deprivation. In my opinion, it's the chief cause. I can attest to sleep deprivation causing shakiness and forgetfulness. It's definitely stressful. I have felt more cogent drunk than after a week of a sick kid getting me up every night.

And yet, in hospitals, it is SOP to wake up the patient at all hours interrupting sleep. It is a stupid practice and should stop. Only in very rare cases do people need to be awoken at all hours especially with all the equipment constantly monitoring the people.

My son who spent four months at in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), had his blood pressure automatically taken every half hour. He hated it, fully woke up and cried every time. And he had his blood drawn by heel stick every two hours. It was barbaric. Those events were so stressful and invasive and relentless, it's amazing that any of the babies live. His twin brother didn't.

My advice to patients: unless there's a good chance you're going to die anyway, avoid a hospital. Sleep is a big part of healing and you're not going to sleep in the hospital.

H/T to Glenn Reynolds who notes his wife's experience in the hospital:

But the end result of all of this stuff, especially when it's spread over the evening, is a huge amount of stress on somebody who's already under stress from illness.
Caitlin Kelly of The New York Times shares her story. If you've ever been in the hospital you know the drill. She says that Grand Central Station was quieter than her hospital room. I believe it. Kelly never mentions bringing a friend or family member with her to the hospital, but it is an absolute must if you want to get out alive. Someone should be watching over you, preferably 24 hours/day, while you're in the hospital. Everyone needs an advocate. My husband is a doctor and when he got cancer, he always had a person with him. (Me.) We learned our lesson after our sons spent so much time in the hospital. Too many big decisions need to be made and too often, the patient isn't even conscious to make them. The only person involved in continuity of care is the patient. Someone must keep track of everything for the patient so the patient can focus on healing.


Anonymous said...

I spent one day in the hospital when I had my knee surgery. It was wonderful! But I was on really good pain dope. And they woke me up to give me more...

David said...

You might be interested in this story about a dentist who applied lean-production techniques in order to make his practice more patient-centric. Many hospitals could probably benefit from the same kind of thinking.

Melissa Clouthier said...


Thanks for the link! We are actually completely changing our processes in our office. I am the Queen of Lean even before I knew what it mean....I mean meant.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Here's my rules for business:

1. Location, location, location
2. Low overhead, low overhead, low overhead
3. Process, process, process
4. Adjust, adjust, adjust (and I don't mean chiropractic, I mean you have to be willing to change and improve)
5. Superior product
6. Superior service
7. Business know thyself

That's it. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I am not David, but I have to say that I think your plan is wise!

Jim Nelson said...

I've been hospitalized several times in the last year. I have a number of pet peeves about the places, but my biggest one is being constantly awakened at all hours, often for things (e.g., emptying the wastebaskets) that could easily have waited until morning.

It never ceases to amaze me that people with medical degrees and years of experience practicing medicine continue to be oblivious to the fact that one of the best things you can do for a sick person is to let him get a decent night's sleep.

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