Maybe we should think twice before waking hospital patients up to take their vital signs, according to research discussed in Patient Engagement HIT.

“The frequency at which vital signs are obtained is not based on evidence and usually occurs at intervals regardless of the level of severity of illness,” the research team said. “Previous studies have shown that patient perception of sleep quality is often worsened by sleep interruption from human and environmental disturbances. In fact, the most disruptive intervention on quality of sleep has been found to be the act of obtaining vital signs.”

The researchers tested a “Quiet at Night” intervention on 39 patients during which nurses did not interrupt sleep to check vitals between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless out of clinical necessity.

Nurses continued hourly rounding but did not wake the patient unless medically needed.

“This is vital because although nurses were not recording vital signs, the practice provided reassurance to the patients that they not clinically abandoned during the night hours,” the research team explained.

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