Ann Blackford

By

College: Medicine

UK Study Looks at How OR Noise Impacts Communication and Safety

Published: May 22, 2013

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 22, 2013) − In a recently published study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, researchers from the University of Kentucky found that 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).

 

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 co-author Dr. Matthew Bush, assistant professor of Surgery in the Division of Otology, Neurology, and Cranial Base Surgery at the UK College of Medicine.  “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 (i.e.: 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,” Bush said.  “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,” 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.”

 

About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients.  The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery.  Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients.  The College has more than 79,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.  For more information, visit www.facs.org.

 

Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or ann.blackford@uky.edu 

matthew_bush.jpg
September
 
1
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Labor Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
2
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Internship Info Session
Student/Faculty/Staff Mixer
Tue
3
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: The Wolf of Wall Street
Last Day to Add a Class
Last Day to Drop a Course with 80% Refund
UK Volunteer Fair
Wed
4
LNFS Presents: Children of Men
LNFS Presents: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Black and Latino Male Initiative
Advance Your Swagger: A Night with Fonzworth Bentely
Thu
5
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Northern Iowa
Kentucky Volleyball vs. USC
LNFS Presents: Spirited Away
LNFS Presents: Mulan
Fri
6
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Football vs. Ohio
#maxfest (Ukirklex Campus Ministry)
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Creighton
Lets Swing Dance!
Sat
7
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Morehead State
Sun
8
Diversity Organization's Council
Kosher/Soul? (Jewish, African American & Appalachian culture Fuse)
Mon
9
Working Moms Connection
Job Club - Job Search Strategies for Fall
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Tue
10
Massage on the Go
College: Do the Right Thing- A conversation with Dr. Smith
The Future of Islam
LNFS Presents: Fight Club
Wed
11
9/11 Vigil
UKNABJ presents: Ferguson, Missouri: A look at media, politics and black youth in the U.S.
LNFS Presents: Mr & Mrs Smith
Duo Damiana, Molly Barth and Dieter Hennings
LNFS Presents: 22 Jump Street
Thu
12
LNFS Presents: Searching For Sugarman
LNFS Presents: Sin City
Fri
13
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Men's Soccer vs. ETSU
Sat
14
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Pepperdine
Sun
15
Kentucky Week Farmer's MarCat and Craft Fair
Majestic U.N.I.T.Y.
Mon
16
Justice Delayed not Justice Denied: A Talk with Dough Jones
PRHBTN Gallery Reception and Concert
Men's Soccer vs. Xavier
Chellgren Seminar Series: Buck Ryan
Tue
17
Internship Info Session
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Caregiver Support Group
LNFS Presents: The Immigrant
Big Blue Commonwealth
Wed
18
LNFS Presents: Watermark
LNFS Presents: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Ryan Gardner Guest Trumpet Recital
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Lipscomb
Thu
19
LNFS Presents: A Band Called Death
LNFS Presents: Prisoners
The Case for Fossil Fuels-PEIK Seminar
Men's Soccer vs. Furman
Fri
20
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
College of Pharmacy Open House
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Xavier
Sat
21
 
Sun
22
Diana Ferrus: 'Writing poetry has allowed me to live': Cultural Resistance in South Africa
Kentucky Law Schools Forum
Mon
23
Pinterest Party
University of Kentucky Chamber Winds
Employer Showcase
Job Club - 10 Questions to Ask Prior to Starting a Business
Men's Soccer vs. Lousville
Tue
24
Employer Showcase
Last Day to Drop a Course with 50% Refund
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
BPH Open House
Documentary Film Screening - Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis
LNFS Presents: Saving Mr. Banks
Wed
25
LNFS Presents: Culture Jam
LNFS Presents: Maleficent
¡Baila!
Thu
26
LNFS Presents: Ponyo
LNFS Presents: The Little Mermaid
Opening Night Bohemiam Festival
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Women's Soccer vs. Mississippi State
Fri
27
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Kentucky Football vs. Vanderbilt
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Green Apple Day of Service: "Pick It Up"
Garba Night
Swing Dancing!
Sat
28
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
UK Chorale
Dirty Dancing Trip
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Auburn
Sun
29
 
Mon
30
Wildcat Wellness and Suicide Prevention Fair and #doubtfireface challenge
QPR-A-THON
#TrendingTopics: Immigration Reform
Apollo Duo - Flute and Percussion Guest Recital
Tue
 
 
 
 

Tue, 09/30/2014

Wed, 10/01/2014

Reset Page