Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Background noise in the operating room can impair surgical team communication

Date:
May 10, 2013
Source:
American College of Surgeons
Summary:
To assess the effects of ambient noise on communication in the operating room, investigators created a noise environment similar to that of an OR and tested 15 surgeons.

Ambient background noise -- whether it is the sound of loud surgical equipment, talkative team members, or music -- is a patient and surgical safety factor that can affect auditory processing among surgeons and the members of their team in the operating room (OR), according to a new study that appears in the May issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The findings are the first to demonstrate that a surgeon's ability to understand spoken words in the OR is directly affected by noise in the environment.

"The operating room is a very fast-paced, high-demand, all senses running on all cylinders type of environment," said study coauthor Matthew Bush, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington. "To minimize errors of communication, it is essential that we consider very carefully the listening environment we are promoting in the OR."

To assess the effects of ambient noise on communication in the OR, the researchers created a noise environment similar to that of an OR and tested 15 surgeons with one to 30 years of operating experience. The surgeons' ability to understand and repeat words was tested using the Speech In Noise Test-Revised (SPIN-R) under four different listening conditions typical of OR environments. These conditions included quiet, filtered noise through a surgical mask and background noise both with and without music. Subjects were tested in two situations: engaged in a specific surgical task and task free.

The study showed a significant decrease in speech comprehension with the presence of background noise when the words were unpredictable. In addition, the surgeons demonstrated considerably poorer speech comprehension in the presence of music compared with a quiet environment or one with OR noise present. However, the addition of music became a significant barrier to speech comprehension only when the surgeon was engaged in a task.

The researchers concluded that OR noise can cause a decrease in auditory processing, particularly in the presence of music. Further, the ability to understand what is being said becomes even more difficult when the conversations carry critical information that is unpredictable.

Currently, miscommunication is one of the most frequently cited causes of preventable medical errors. For this reason, there is a growing interest in identifying overlooked variables that can lead to communication breakdowns among health care professionals.

Therefore, these study results have important implications in the real world because surgical teams carry on critical conversations during surgical procedures that often include discussions about medications and dosing as well as the blood supply that should be on hand. Because some of these details might sound similar, clear communication is crucial to avoiding medical errors (ie: a request for the drug heparin might be heard as Hespan).

"Our main goal is to increase awareness that operating room noise does affect communication and that we should foster the best environment in which we can communicate better," Dr. Bush explained. "This effort means that the surgical team needs to work diligently to create the safest environment possible, and that step may mean either turning the music off or down, or limiting background conversations or other things in the environment that could lead to communication errors and medical mistakes."

In future studies, the researchers plan to look at a larger population of surgeons, especially those who are hearing impaired, as well as other operating team members such as anesthesiologists and nurses.

"I think it's important to demonstrate the effect of environmental operating noise on communication on a variety of different players in the operating room setting," Dr. Bush said. "Another step from here is to not only see how noise affects our understanding of speech, but how it affects our tasks, how it affects our ability to perform surgical procedures efficiently and effectively. That is a different stage and different study design completely, but these questions are all ahead of us as we investigate the effects of environmental sound on operating room communication."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Surgeons. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. Justin Way, Ashleigh Long, Jeff Weihing, Rosalind Ritchie, Raleigh Jones, Matthew Bush, Jennifer B. Shinn. Effect of Noise on Auditory Processing in the Operating Room. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 2013; 216 (5): 933 DOI: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2012.12.048

Cite This Page:

American College of Surgeons. "Background noise in the operating room can impair surgical team communication." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130510124558.htm>.
American College of Surgeons. (2013, May 10). Background noise in the operating room can impair surgical team communication. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130510124558.htm
American College of Surgeons. "Background noise in the operating room can impair surgical team communication." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130510124558.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins