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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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Vigilance Versus Music In Operating Rooms

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Music has its place in elevators, cars, concert venues, even business offices. But, after reading a New York Times article it has no place in operating rooms. All I have to know is that 26 percent of anesthesiologists feel music “reduced their vigilance”.

While in Surgery, Do You Prefer Abba or Verdi?

It was a normal day at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights, where music fills the operating rooms much of the time, as it does in other hospitals. Like most of modern life, surgery has acquired a soundtrack, whether it be Sinatra or Vivaldi, Mozart or Bob Marley, “La Bohème” or the Beatles. Surgeons say it relaxes them, focuses their attention and helps pass the time.

Music can become a subtle bone of contention among the members of the surgical team or a practical aid. Loud rock ‘n’ roll is good for routine operations, they say, Mozart for trickier ones. There is even a genre called “closing music”: raucous sounds to suture by.

In a survey of 200 anesthesiologists published in 1997 in the British journal Anaesthesia, 72 percent of respondents said music was played regularly in their operating rooms. About 26 percent felt that music “reduced their vigilance” and interfered with communication. Half felt that music was distracting when they encountered a problem.