Impact of Noise Pollution in Operating Rooms and How to Avoid It

3 MIN READ

Can you imagine the impact of noise in the operating room? There are aspects influencing the operating room (OR) efficiency, which are not as well-known as the infection risk but have a high impact as well.

“Unnecessary noise is the cruellest absence of care which can be inflicted either on sick or on well.” —Florence Nightingale, 1859

Can you imagine the impact of noise in the operating room? There are aspects influencing the operating room (OR) efficiency, which are not as well-known as the infection risk but have a high impact as well. However, several studies show the adverse effects high noise levels can have in an operating theater setting such as1:

  • It was reported that noise in the operating room could cause permanent psychological stress within the staff
  • Distractions lead to negative impact in communications amongst the operating room nurses / teams
  • It is noteworthy that studies have identified miscommunication as one of the leading root causes of error and poor patient outcomes. An astonishing 83% of healthcare staff asked in a survey, published in 2016, thought that noise in the operating room contributed to human errors.

The following infographic summarizes the harmfulness of noise pollution in operating rooms:

Noise Pollution in the OR

To give you an idea about the noise levels, the graphic below shows the relative intensity of different noises and the acceptable time limits for exposure. Noise pollution in the operating room can reach in excess 130 dBA2. If we consider that recommended noise levels within hospitals should be at 45 dBA or less3, there is a considerable gap.

Noise levels in the OR can reach in excess of 130 dBA

Moreover, research shows that operating room equipment (like medical suction machines) are main sources of the noise6.

What if there was a simple way to reduce noise in the operating room? Less noise means:

  • More concentration
  • Easier communication
  • Less errors/complications

Doesn't it make sense to remove one major distraction in the operating room for the benefit of the patient and operating room nurses? Imagine how this could influence the way you and your staff perform.

Medela Basic and Dominant Flex pumps are equipped with a powerful drive unit that is whisper quiet at < 40 dB(A), and is up to 4x quieter than comparable solutions. On top, our DCS offers you easy, smooth single-handed operation and safety by design with high-flow bacteria filter (99.999% retention), and double-layered foil7.

What if there was a simple way to greatly reduce the OR noise level?

Book a product demonstration today, to experience the difference yourself. Because hearing is believing.

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References

1. A.D. Padmakumar et al.,"Effect of noise on tasks in operating theatres", 2017

2."Effect of noise on tasks in operating theatres", A.D. Padmakumar et al. Feb 2017

3. Dholakia S et al, The association of noise and surgical-site infection in day-case hernia repairs, 2015

4. Dorthe Hasfeldt et al, Noise in the Operating Room—What Do We Know? A Review of the Literature, 2010

5. Michael Barakate, Noise in the operating theatre: how much is too much?, 2010

6. Graphic based on study from Oliviera et al, Occupational exposure to noise pollution in anesthesiology, 2016, p. 253d

7. Data on file at Medela AG