A Restless Night

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Life in a hospital is all about routine. Every day, well before sunrise, nurses visit every patient to check for vital signs and draw blood. Lab technicians then run tests on these blood samples checking for disease progression and overall well-being. This is a necessary precaution for physicians, who often need this analysis done before their morning rounds to provide informed decisions and advice for the patients. 

However, there is one crucial factor that this routine overlooks: sleep. There have been previous studies, especially among elderly patients, that show sleep deprivation leads to an increase in their risk of adverse events during and after hospitalization, speaking to a need for more research on post-hospital syndrome and other factors impacting patient care and increasing stress for patients. 

In a recent study, Cesar Caraballo-Cordovez, a postdoctoral associate at the Yale School of Medicine, focused on the burden of the timing of blood draws on patients’ well-being. After taking data from 5,676,092 blood draws at the Yale New Haven Hospital, his team discovered that 2,206,410 samples (38.9 percent) were drawn between 4:00 am and 6:59 am. From 2016 through 2019, this proportion of early morning blood samples drawn increased from 36.9 to 41.4 percent, indicating an increase in this trend. 

To improve upon this issue, hospitals may consider restructuring how medical care is delivered. “In the end, the hospitals are built on efficiency, so the main focus would be to shift this focus to the quality of patient care and patient satisfaction to have a tangible impact,” Caraballo said. With additional concerns about overworking hospital workers, there is a pressing need for the future of healthcare systems to consider the balance between hospital efficiency and the well-being of both patients and healthcare professionals.