Pray silence

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 04 April 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1099
  1. James Owen Drife
  1. professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Leeds

    Humorous cartoons sometimes feature notices saying “Quiet please—hospital.” Such signs once existed in real life. When I was a boy there was one outside our local infirmary, though it was not a success. Buses and lorries did not freewheel, pedestrians did not tiptoe, and delivery boys continued to whistle.

    Its rationale, I suppose, was a feeling of respect. You lower your voice near a sickroom. Now that hospitals are perceived as processing plants dealing with waiting lists, this instinct has faded. Occasionally I remind raucous visitors that there are ill people in the wards, and they look at me with …

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