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Arch Hellen Med, 29(4), July-August 2012, 443-447


The effects of noise in the operating room

A. Patelarou, E. Melidoniotis, M. Dimitraki, E. Patelarou
Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Noise is a stressful agent with adverse effects on both the patients and the healthcare workers in the operating room, and therefore it must be limited or avoided whenever possible. The aim of this review is to identify the problems arising from noise during surgery. The international literature focuses on five points: noise levels, noise sources, the staff preparation, the effects of noise on their work, and finally, the patients' perception of noise. In general, the levels of noise in the operating room exceed the acceptable limits and the main sources of noise are considered to be the equipment and staff' activities. The major adverse effect of noise during the preparation of the staff is the impairment of their communication, posing a possible threat to patient safety. There is only a small body of literature on patient perception of noise, indicating the need for further research. Concerning the negative impact of noise on the anesthesia providers, epidemiological studies have shown that noise has adverse effects on cognitive functions, such as memory and attention. Noise in the operating room constitutes a risk factor for patient safety during the operative procedure, and its limitation is imperative. This could be achieved mainly by modifying the attitudes and behavior of the staff in the operating room, with respect to both their colleagues and the patients.

Key words: Health, Noise, Occupational exposure, Operating room.

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