OR Background Noise, Especially Music, Decreases Surgeons’ Auditory Function

May 15, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Higher levels of background noise in operating rooms (ORs) can cause a decrease in the auditory processing function among surgeons and other OR staff, according to the results of a study published in the May 2013 issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The study, which included 15 surgeons who had a range of 1 to 30 years of operative experience and normal peripheral hearing sensitivity, tested the surgeons' ability to understand and repeat words using the Speech in Noise Test—Revised. Four different levels of noise conditions were chosen to simulate typical OR environments, including quiet, noise filtered through a mask, and background noise both with and without music playing. The participant’s ability to correctly identify speech was tested in both tasked and untasked situations.

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