As a survey finds 90% of surgeons listen to music in the operating theatre (see page ‘Rock music cuts it for surgeons’), Dr Ellie Mein responds to a dilemma after a nurse complained that the choice of song was striking the wrong chord.
Is it right to play music in the OT?
Q I have just witnessed a dispute about the music being played in the operating theatre.
The surgeon put on his playlist as usual, but the scrub nurse, whom he had not previously worked with, complained about the choice of music, as she found it distracting.
She asked that no music be played and commented that music in operating theatres should be banned, as it was ‘medico-legally indefensible’.
In a later discussion, the surgeon explained that, as music was played in theatre by most of his other surgical colleagues, he felt the ‘Bolam principle’ would apply in the event of any claim.
Put another way, if the decision to play music in theatres was supported by ‘a responsible body of medical opinion’, a claim could be defended.
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