Ask HRC: Helping Patients Rest with Sleep Masks

October 30, 2006 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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An HRC member recently inquired about the use of sleep masks—similar to those an airplane passenger might use—to help patients sleep by blocking out light. In some clinical areas like the intensive care unit, sleep deprivation because of excessive light and noise can be a real concern for patients, and many facilities are exploring ways to help patients be more comfortable even while delivering care around the clock. In our response, HRC notes that there are several concerns and that the member might ultimately determine that these risks outweigh potential benefits.

A primary concern is that initiation of this sleep aid in a strange environment where the individual is already significantly compromised poses a risk of fear, disorientation, and falling. In addition, if the patient is medicated or is a restless sleeper, elastic strings...

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