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Getting zeds without the reds: a growing concern about after-effects of sleeping tablets

Getting zeds without the reds: a growing concern about after-effects of sleeping tablets

Research has found that patients prescribed sleeping tablets to cope with noisy wards are more likely to fall and hurt themselves. St. Thomas' Hospital in London are working to provide an alternative.

Recent US research has found that in-patients taking sleeping tablets are 4 times as likely to have a fall during their stay. With as many as 1 in 10 patients in some hospitals receiving sleep medication, this is surely of concern to the health care profession.

During a recent edition of Inside Health on Radio 4, Dr Mark Porter spoke to some staff at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London about how they approached the issues of noisy wards.

He spoke to both a consultant physician and staff nurse who confirmed that they avoid regular use of sleeping tablets, even describing them as ‘semi-banned’. The consultant went on to say that - understandably - they would rather have a well patient who hadn’t slept as opposed to one that had fallen and broken a hip.

To help, St. Thomas’ offers a sleep comfort pack to patients when admitted; blindfold, ear plugs, headphones for TV and a quieter night-mode for call buzzers. They are also working to improve wards by avoiding noisy trolleys and equipment coming up at night and moving patients that need excess amounts of monitoring to a different ward.

Prof Kevin Morgan at the Clinical Sleep Research Unit at Loughborough University says that we need to make more of an effort to consider hospital cultures rather than just reaching for the pills; noting that we do seem to find this hard to do! Whilst the NHS has made much more effort to think about it across the last decade, he feels that energy hasn’t been channelled into imaginative alternatives and that we need to think about the ‘hospitality’ elements of care.

How’s your service for quality of sleep? Are any measures taken to help in-patients get a good night’s rest or is just not possible? Let us know through Facebook, at our Google+ page or with a tweet and share your strategies and thoughts on the matter.

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