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Web Stuff: Meds and Heat, Noise Epidemic, Nurses and Smartphones at Work

July 11, 2012

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor/blog editor

Flickr/National Archives and Records Administration

Medicines and summer heat. Anyone with one or more prescription medicines might occasionally wonder whether there’s a better place to store them than a kitchen cabinet. This is especially true for meds mailed to you in three-month supplies rather than the one-month supply we used to get.

Here’s a brief article at the NPR Shots blog that notes a few meds that you particularly should be concerned about, emphasizes that areas of extreme heat or humidity are the worst location (so-called “medicine cabinets” in humid and hot bathrooms are not so great, nor are cabinets over stoves, in direct sun, or the like). While most medicines can tolerate a certain amount of abuse, the ideal environment for most of them (except those that need refrigeration) is room temperature, which doesn’t mean Fahrenheit temperatures reaching into the 80s or 90s. I’ve sometimes wondered why someone doesn’t just invent a type of medicine storage container that can be locked if need be, limits humidity, etc. Steal my idea—please! Are there any strategies you find effective for safely storing medications?

Smartphones at work: OK, in case you didn’t know it, most nurses are using smartphones at work:

In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 72 percent of physicians use smartphones. Nurses aren’t far behind, with 71 percent using smartphones on the job, according to a recent survey conducted by Wolters Kluwer Health, which is launching its Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Nursing 2013 Drug Handbook mobile app, MobiHealth News reports.

What’s your experience of this? How do you use smartphones? Are you allowed to do so, encouraged to do so, or forbidden? What do you use it for while at work? Epocrates? Words With Friends?

Turn it down! We hear a lot about the negative health effects of noise in hospitals. But it’s not just hospitals. I was reading a book on the subway yesterday on the way home when a man stood right up against me with headphones playing music so loudly I couldn’t make it through a sentence. Imagine what he was doing to his own ears. As it happens, I was reading a Swedish police procedural published in 1969 at the time, and in particular a passage in which you learn a certain suspected murdererer had been cited for running the water too often and too late at night, walking up and down the apartment too loudly, and the like. The city had sent out official noise inspectors to measure the decibel level. Incredible—this would never happen in the U.S. Running the water too loudly?

Maybe you can go too far in regulating noise, but we certainly don’t do so in the U.S., where even paradisical suburbs (I once lived in Palo Alto, California) are marred by constant leaf-blower noise, where city blocks are so loud with construction noise, idling Fresh Direct trucks, honking, shouted conversations, etc., etc., you can’t have a phone conversation, and helicopters hover over brownstones at 5am. And it’s quiet here by comparison with other countries. Maybe you live on a quiet cul-de-sac with neighbors who spend their days in meditation, but many of us don’t, and the “noise epidemic” is only getting worse:

Dispatches from around the world report ever-louder average volumes. In 2008, The New York Times found it noteworthy that the average daytime volume in Cairo was 85 decibels, with gusts to 95. But today in Pakistan’s Rawalpindi, daytime averages are now 105 decibels (put your ear next to a leaf blower to replicate a visit). At that volume, if Rawalpindi were a U.S. workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would limit exposure to just an hour a day.

In 1905, the Nobel Prize-winning bacteriologist Robert Koch wrote, “The day will come when man will have to fight noise as inexorably as cholera and the plague.”

How do you escape the noise? Does it affect your quality of life, health, sleep quality, concentration, heart rhythms, work life? Or should we all just don headphones to block it out, buy a Jet Ski, and generally get on with our busy lives—until we’re all so deaf the noise no longer matters?

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