HUSH… Help Us Support Healing.
This motto lets staff, visitors and patients know about the new Quiet Campaign at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC). A hospital can be a noisy place, but it doesn’t have to be. At UIHC we identified “quietness” as an opportunity for improvement, according to our patient satisfaction survey results. In response to our patients’ comments, we put together a multidisciplinary workgroup last fall and began figuring out a solution. For the past six months, our group implemented interventions we believe will successfully lower noise levels and improve “quietness” at UIHC.
The noise: Here’s what we’re doing about it…
- Out with the old and in with the new!
We replaced dated signage with new HUSH posters featuring UIHC staff. The posters—displayed on every inpatient unit and hallway flat-screen dashboards—show specific staff from that unit. Featured staff include nurses, nursing assistants, unit clerks and physicians. We hope to catch people’s attention and also highlight our own staff as supporters of the program.
- Standard quiet times
All inpatient units now follow a standard quiet time from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. every day. Our goal for this designated time period is to promote rest and relaxation. During quiet time, units dim their lights, reduce patient stimuli and use softer tones when speaking with colleagues or others. To ensure we maintain our high standards of care, we don’t postpone tests or treatments during this time. However, we do expect staff to bundle their services around this 90-minute quiet time in an effort to minimize interruptions for the patient.
- Alarm sound levels
Many different types of alarms regularly sound on an inpatient unit, including infusion pumps, vital sign monitors, call lights, bed alarms and pneumatic tube station alerts. We re-educated staff on how to better control the sound levels of these alarms. We also lowered by one level the infusion pump default sound and showed staff how to alter the alarm sound level when possible. In addition, we educated staff about appropriate EKG lead placement to prevent unnecessary vital-sign monitor alarms. Staff also learned how to change noise levels on pneumatic tube station alarms, especially during the overnight hours.
- Quiet TV channel
The Quiet TV channel provides patients and visitors with ideas to enhance rest. The channel also informs patients of resources we provide to help promote rest—sleep masks and ear plugs—and reviews all of our initiatives in place to help support healing.
- Scripting for staff
Several factors contribute to the noise in a hospital. However, people tend to be the largest cause of the noise. We encouraged our staff to hold each other accountable for maintaining lowered voices and holding group conversations in workroom areas. We also shared the following guidance with staff: “We are committed to providing a restful and healing environment. Please speak softly at the nurse’s station, in hallways, pods and consider having team discussions in conference rooms/other rooms on the clinical units/areas.”
When first forming our workgroup, we simultaneously started to raise awareness about quietness at UIHC. We already see an improvement in our patient satisfaction scores. With our Quiet Campaign fully implemented, we expect to see even more progress over upcoming months.
Emily Wynn, RN, BSN, MBA, CCRN, is interim director of clinical functions, Medical-Surgical Services, at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. firstname.lastname@example.org