Noise in the Operating Room Distracts Members of the Surgical Team. An Observational Study

World J Surg. 2018 Dec;42(12):3880-3887. doi: 10.1007/s00268-018-4730-7.


Background: Noise pollution in operation rooms may distract the surgical team members. In particular during phases of high task complexity, noise can jeopardize concentration. Phases of high complexity are related to task specificities and may thus be different for different members of the surgical team.

Study design: Noise exposure was measured during 110 open abdominal surgeries. Distinguishing three phases (opening, main phase, and closing), noise was related to self-report of distraction levels by main and secondary surgeons, scrub nurses and anesthetists.

Results: Noise pollution was higher than recommended levels for concentrated work. Adjusted for duration, surgical type, and difficulty of the surgery, results showed that second surgeons are more likely distracted when noise pollution was high in the main phase; and anesthetists are more likely distracted when noise pollution was high during the closing phase. Main surgeons' and scrub nurses' concentration was not impaired by measured noise levels.

Conclusions: In phases with higher concentration demands, noise pollution was particularly distracting for second surgeons and anesthetist, corresponding to their specific task demands (anesthetists) and experience (second surgeons). Reducing noise levels particularly in the main and closing phase of the surgery may reduce concentration impairments.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / surgery
  • Anesthetists / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Humans
  • Noise, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Operating Rooms
  • Self Report
  • Surgeons / psychology*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative