Journal Article

Effect of noise on auditory processing in the operating room.

Way J, Long A, Weihing J, et al. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2013;216:933-8.

Effective teamwork and communication are critical to ensuring patient safety in the busy environment of the operating room (OR). Concerns have been raised that excessive noise levels could cause distractions and inhibit communication in this setting. This study used a simulation approach to quantify the effect of noise on surgeons' ability to communicate and focus on tasks in the OR. The investigators found that ambient noise—especially music—can inhibit surgeons' auditory processing, resulting in lower quality of communication in critical situations. Because poor communication has been associated with adverse events in surgery, the authors urge that surgical teams consider the potential negative effects of playing music in the OR.