Turn the music down, doctor! Background noise during operations found to be causing serious communication problems between medical staff

Background music during operations is causing serious communications breakdowns between medical staff, according to new research.
Surgeons were found to be five times more likely to have to repeat requests for medical instruments when a soundtrack was played in theatre.
Around 70 per cent of operations are performed with music playing in the background – with drum and base surprisingly popular among staff – contrary to common perceptions that surgeons perform to the sound of calm classical music.
But a team of researchers from two top London universities recorded footage of 20 operations in the 
UK which revealed disturbing problems such as surgeons having to repeat requests for instruments as well as tension over the choice of soundtrack. 
The report suggests communication within theatre teams can be impaired by music.
Music was first introduced into operating theatres in 1914 to reduce anxiety in patients.
Now, patients are placed under anaesthetic outside the theatre and music is routinely played for the benefit of clinical staff.
New theatre suites are often equipped with docking stations and MP3 players and portable speakers are routinely used during operations.
Researchers placed multiple cameras placed at strategic points in operating theatres. Twenty operations were analysed, 70 per cent of which had music playing.
How the music was played and controlled was also highlighted as an issue. If playback volume from digital sources was not standardised, volume could increase without warning when a track changes.
Staff were seen to occasionally turn up a popular song, leading to a sudden increase in volume that could mask instructions and other verbal communications.
The study has been published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Author Dr Terhi Korkiakangas, from University College London said: ‘In the operating theatres we observed, it was usually the senior medics of the team who made the decision about background music.
‘Without a standard practice of the team deciding together, it is left up to junior staff and nurses to speak up and challenge the decisions of senior doctors, which can be extremely daunting.’
Dr Korkiakangas continued: ‘Public perception of music in operating theatres is shaped by media portrayals of surgical teams always working to a background of smooth music. We found that often dance and drum and bass were played fairly loudly.’
Author and PhD candidate Sharon-Marie Weldon, from Imperial College London, said: ‘Music can be helpful to staff working in operating theatres where there is often a lot of background noise, as well as other distractions – it can improve concentration.
‘That said, we’d like to see a more considered approach, with much more discussion or negotiation over whether music is played, the type of music, and volume, within the operating teams.’ 
The study comes after previous research found playing music actually inhibits concentration.
A study by Cardiff University found university students who listened to their tunes while trying to memorise a list of letters fared worse than those who worked in silence. 
Listening to music – including tunes that they liked – hampered their recall, researchers found. 
However, a US study published last week revealed doctors who listened to their favourite songs while performing a set procedure, had better surgical technique and efficiency.
That is, their stitches were better and faster. 
Source Mail Online

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