Operating rooms are noisy

Quiet in the operating room!

It is often noisy in operating theaters. A study at the Children's Clinic of the Hannover Medical School (MHH) showed that the complication rate decreases in a quieter operating room. The volume could be reduced with the help of technical measures and binding rules of conduct.

The stress increases with the noise level

There are numerous sources of noise in an operating theater: surgeons, anesthetists, operating room nurses, visiting doctors and medical students are talking, medical devices produce noise, music comes from the radio, beepers and cell phones ring. "The average noise level in the operating room is 63 decibels," explains Dr. Carsten Engelmann, senior physician at the MHH clinic for pediatric surgery and head of the study. That is about as loud as a motorized lawnmower ten meters away. “Everyone's sensitivity to noise is different. But in principle the susceptibility to stress also increases with the noise level, ”adds PhD student Jan Philipp Neis, who was involved in the preparation of the study.

Less on the ears

For half a year, Dr. Engelmann and his colleagues worked intensively on the subject of "noise in the operating theater". The study was based on more than 150 surgical interventions in children and adolescents that lasted longer than 20 minutes. The researchers developed a systematic noise reduction program. Large optical noise alarms were hung in the viewing axes of the operating room, the operating room telephone switched to the optical signal and the volume of medical devices was reduced. For the staff, private conversations were forbidden. The doors were kept closed, cell phones were taboo in the operating room and conversations were only conducted if they had something to do with the current case.

Better working conditions for surgeons

Result: “We were able to reduce the volume by half. The surgeons felt more comfortable in the quieter working environment and were able to work more concentrated, ”reports Dr. Engelmann. “The complication rate has been reduced by half. For example, there was less bleeding, infection and suture insufficiency. "

At this year's European children's surgeon congress in Leipzig, the MHH team received positive feedback on the study results from many colleagues. "Apparently, the noise in the operating room bothers many surgeons, but unfortunately it is rarely said," says Dr. Engelmann. The researchers are calling for better working conditions for surgeons. Satisfied surgeons also mean more safety for patients.


10/11/2013 | Sandra Göbel / MHH