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Title Pandemonium in the Modern Hospital
Author(s) Gerald W. Grumet
Source New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 328, No. 6
Publication Date February 11, 1993
Abstract The hospital atmosphere in the 1940s and 1950s was one of austere silence, as in a library reading room. Hallways displayed a ubiquitous picture of a uniformed nurse, finger to the lips, sometimes accompanied by the words, "Quiet Please." Signs on the street read, "Hospital Zone -- Quiet." The occasional overhead page of a physician signaled a true emergency. But that subdued setting has gradually been replaced by one of turbulence and frenzied activity. People now dart about in a race against time; telephones ring loudly; intercom systems blare out abrupt, high-decibel messages that startle the unsuspecting listener. These sounds are superimposed on a collection of beeps and whines from an assortment of electronic gadgets -- pocket pagers, call buttons, telemetric monitoring systems, electronic intravenous machines, ventilator alarms, patient-activity monitors, and computer printers. The hospital, designed as a place of healing and tranquility for patients and of scholarly exchanges among physicians, has become a place of beeping, buzzing, banging, clanging, and shouting.

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