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December 2022

Noise pollution in the operating theatre

Author(s): Thompson, J. F.

Journal/Book: Lancet. 1990; 335: 891-4.

Abstract: Sound levels during a typical major operation were measured to identify the main sources of noise in the operating theatre. Although overall sound levels were within the recommended levels for a satisfactory working environment, loud intermittent noises of up to 108 dB were emitted from sources such as suckers, "intercoms", and alarms on anaesthetic monitoring devices. The noisiest time was usually during the preparation period of the operation; during surgery, noise levels were much higher than levels of normal speech between staff. Preferred speech interference levels were often exceeded which made communication difficult and sometimes impossible. Communication and concentration were also disrupted by unnecessary background conversation.

Keyword(s): Anesthesiology instrumentation; Attention physiology; Ear Protective Devices; Fourier Analysis; Music ; Noise, Occupational prevention and control; Startle Reaction physiology; Stress, Psychological prevention and control; Surgical Equipment; Task Performance and Analysis; Videotape Recording Communication ; Noise adverse effects; Noise, Occupational adverse effects; Operating Rooms; Stress, Psychological etiology Human

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