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Background noise in the operating room can impair surgical team communication
Date:5/10/2013

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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 un
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Contact: Dan Hamilton
pressinquiry@facs.org
312-202-5328
American College of Surgeons
Source:Eurekalert

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