Music in operating rooms on television has become quite a trope, from the Scrubs clip above to more popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy and even House. But like all tropes, there’s a bit of truth ingrained.
Music has been used in operating rooms for just over a century, originally used to soothe patients. Now, surgery times are longer as more complex procedures are becoming safer, and surgeons commonly use music to stay alert.
However, according to a recent study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, dance music in the operating room is distracting surgeons. Other music is often played, as well, but the study notes that dance music, and drum & bass in particular, is often played louder than other genres.
Music could cause distraction thus may be hazardous in the operating theatre settings. It can restrict communication with other staff members and could be a nuisance in an emergency scenario. It could interfere with hearing patient’s breathing and important alarms.
The BBC noted in their analysis of the study that one nurse had to ask for the music to be turned down because she couldn’t properly concentrate on her task, an error that could result in mistakes in the patient’s care.
One solution that the study proposes is a joint consensus on the music in the operating room, a decision often left up to the lead surgeon.
[…] 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.
You can read the whole study here.