Sleep is an essential part of the recovery process, yet inpatient sleep quality is poor. Patients and families report that vital signs are the most bothersome overnight disruption. Obtaining vital signs every 4 hours (Q4H) is not evidence-based and is frequently ordered indiscriminately. We aimed to decrease the percentage of patient nights with vital sign checks between 12 am and 6 am in a low-risk population from 98% to 70% within 12 months to minimize overnight sleep disruptions and improve inpatient sleep.
We conducted a quality improvement project on 3 pediatric hospital medicine teams at a large free-standing children’s hospital. Our multidisciplinary team defined low-risk patients as those admitted for hyperbilirubinemia and failure to thrive. Interventions were focused around education, electronic health record decision support, and patient safety. The outcome measure was the percentage of patient nights without a vital sign measurement between 12 am and 6 am and was analyzed by using statistical process control charts. Our process measure was the use of an appropriate vital sign order. Balancing measures included adverse patient events, specifically code blues outside the ICU and emergent transfers.
From March 2020 to April 2021, our pediatric hospital medicine (PHM) services admitted 449 low-risk patients for a total of 1550 inpatient nights. The percentage of patient nights with overnight vital signs decreased from 98% to 38%. There were no code blues or emergent transfers.
Our improvement interventions reduced the frequency of overnight vital sign monitoring in 2 low-risk groups without any adverse events.