You are right; I, too, was taught many years ago (and have been reminded many times since then) not to chart that someone is "sleeping" because, technically, we don't really know
if they're sleeping -- they could
just be lying there with their eyes closed, playing possum. However, what we do
know (and what I have always charted) is that they are lying quietly in bed, eyes closed, resp. even and unlabored (or deep and even, or whatever they are). That way, we are charting objective observations, not our subjective conclusions about
What I have never
been told is to wake someone up to make sure s/he is still alive ... As you noted, we nurses have other ways to verify that someone is alive -- how hard is it to stand quietly next to the bed briefly and verify that someone is breathing? And, if they're breathing, they ain't dead
When I was a psych surveyor for my state, I did investigate one death on a psych unit (death investigations were a routine part of our job) where it turned out that the person had actually died around 12 or 1 AM, and staff faithfully made "safety checks" every 30 mins all night, per unit policy, without noticing the person wasn't breathing anymore -- no one noticed
the person was dead until AM vital signs the following morning (you should have seen the note left on the chart by the doc who responded to the code call!
) So, yes
, that actually does happen occasionally. Eeeewwwwww!!