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Surgeons warned playing drum and bass during operations puts patients at greater risk

Staff find it harder to communicate properly

Alice Harrold
Thursday 06 August 2015 08:08 BST
Surgeons playing loud music during operations more likely to communicate badly, study shows
Surgeons playing loud music during operations more likely to communicate badly, study shows (JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/Getty Images)

Surgeons have been warned that playing drum and bass during operations hampers communication with nurses and puts patients at risk.

According to research by the National Journal of Nurses, surgeons listening to music during procedures may make it more difficult to concentrate.

The small study placed cameras in operating rooms in UK hospitals, recording 35 hours of footage. Music was played during 16 of the 20 surgeries examined.

The video revealed that music made staff repeat themselves, hindered communication, caused frustration and potentially risked patient safety.

It was most often senior surgeons who chose if and what music played.

Drum and bass and dance music were often played loudest, with the volume raised for popular songs.

In some cases, the findings show that nurses visibly struggled to hear instructions from surgeons.

Music is played during 50 to 70 per cent of surgeries performed around the world, with many new theatres equipped with music players.

In the cases where music was being played, the medics were five times more likely to repeat requests.

Ineffective communication can lead to increased tensions and frustrations for staff and therefore potentially impact patient safety, the study said.

"Our study shows that playing music in the operating theatre can run counter to effective communication and highlights the need to consider both positive and negative effects of music on staff and patients," lead author Sharon Weldon said.

However, previous research has also found that music can positively affect surgeons' abilities and decrease their stress.

In a study published by the Aesthetic Surgery Journal last month, plastic surgeons were asked to stitch a wound with and without music. The results with music revealed that quality was improved and time was reduced by 8 to ten per cent.

In the first study to factor in preferred musical styles, the 15 surgeons were asked to play their own choice of song.

Co-author Dr Andrew Zhang said: "Our study confirmed that listening to the surgeon's preferred music improves efficiency and quality of wound closure, which may translate to health care cost savings and better patient outcomes."

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