University of Kansas Hospital Makes Quiet a Priority and Patients Get More Rest

This story originally appeared in IHI's 2007 Annual Progress Report.
 
Hospitals are busy places, and sometimes they are also noisy places. Far noisier, in fact, than one might guess. Research shows that the noise level in a typical hospital room can reach 113 decibels, about the same as a chainsaw. This is incompatible with patients who need rest as well as medical care.
 
On the 28-bed med/surg Unit 43 in The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, nurses decided to protect some quiet time for patients. “We had heard about this idea at an IHI conference, and we thought it was a great idea,” says Stacy Morast, RN, Nurse Manager of Unit 43. “Noise is one of patients’ most common complaints.”
 
“We started small, with one patient and one nurse. The patient loved it,” says Morast. In order to spread it to the whole unit, they had to enlist everyone — colleagues from admitting to physical therapy, dietary, lab, and other ancillary services, and even doctors making rounds — to agree to stay off the unit during the designated hour and let the patients rest. With input from all departments, they chose an hour in the early afternoon.
 
“It really gives the patients time off,” says Morast. “They can close the door, turn off the lights, and they won’t be interrupted. They love it, and now other units in the hospital are trying it."
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