There’s an eye-opening series on health care delivery running in the New York Times. The most recent installment concerns the dehumanizing effect of modern hospital practices on the patient.
It will be difficult to revamp the way doctors and nurses do their jobs — but it’s easier to invest in technology:
In a recent study, Dr. Ulrich and researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden monitored the health of 94 heart disease patients. About a third of the patients received care in a unit with commonly used plaster ceiling tiles, which bounced sound waves back into the room. The other two-thirds were treated in rooms with sound-absorbing ceiling tiles, which muted echoes and reduced overall noise noticeably.
After three months, the study found, the patients in the quieter rooms were less likely to be readmitted for further health problems than the others, and on questionnaires they rated the staff higher. They also had significantly lower pulse amplitude at night, a marker of better circulatory health.
We’re finding over and over again this is the best way to sell change to stingy administrators — say it “improves patient outcomes”. Now we just need a clinical trial that shows uninterrupted sleep and common courtesy improve outcomes.