New research in the UK has shown that British surgeons are frequently turning to dance music to help them steady the scalpel during operations, but it isn’t necessarily good news for patients and nurses.
The study, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, involved placing multiple cameras around operating theatres, generating over 35 hours of footage from 20 operations. Background music was present in 16 of the ops, with senior doctors normally responsible for choosing the music, rather than the nursing staff. Dance music and drum & bass were a common choice and said to be played “fairly loudly” with “popular tracks sometimes blasted out.” Footage showed that the volume of music often made communication difficult, and in some cases, nurses were seen to struggle to hear the surgeon’s instructions, with one having to ask for the music to be turned down as she lost track of how many swabs had been used.
Countering the claims, the Royal College of Surgeons said there was no evidence the problem is common across British hospitals, but noted that if music is played, it “must not be distracting.” Sharon-Marie Weldon of the the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London told the BBC “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.”
So if you’re going under the knife any time soon, maybe best to make sure the aux cable is in the hands of someone who is more into ambient or chill-out.