During surgery, what do staff talk about in the OR?

Cataract Surgery with Bluetooth headphones and Surgical Serenity Lullaby playlist

Dr Cash’s cataract surgery using Bluetooth headphones and Surgical Serenity playlist

I read a very interesting post yesterday. A nurse who worked in surgery 30-40 years ago said that during whatever procedure the surgeon was doing, he was talking to the patient the entire time. Even though the patient was under general anesthesia, the surgeon addressed him as Mr. ____ and explained everything he was doing, as he was doing it. He also added positive comments such as “the operation is going very well,” “you’re going to recover quickly and easily from this,” and “you will feel so much better for having had this procedure.”

He did not allow any OR chatter among the staff or talk about the patient as though he couldn’t hear them. I wonder how often this happens today, around the world?

Apparently this is not the norm today. The OR chatter is filled with topics that have nothing to do with the patient and sometimes the patient is talked about in a demeaning way. Now I don’t think that’s the norm, but it does happen and there have been lawsuits about this in the news recently.

Having surgery is a very frightening experience for many people. Just recently I was told that I need to have a biopsy on my thyroid and I am truly not looking forward to that! But surgeries, biopsies, and testing of all kinds are daily occurrences around the world.  Modern medicine has created many, many procedures that involve probing into the body to eliminate, destroy, or treat illness.

While this is going on, the patient benefits from being as calm as possible!  I actually love the idea of the doctor talking to the patient throughout the procedure, especially if it’s calm, positive talk.  I have heard from so many patients that even under general anesthesia, or perhaps as they were waking up, they heard OR staff discussing their lunch or dinner plans, their date the night before, or topics totally unrelated to their surgery or procedure. That does NOT feel good.  Patients don’t want to feel like their procedure is not that important to the people who are conducting it.

Actually, the turning point for me was when I heard that a surgeon in a large downtown hospital here was playing “Another one bites the dust” by QUEEN during most of his surgeries!  I was horrified! That is not funny or cute and is extremely disrespectful. How much kinder, healing, and respectful is addressing the patient directly with words that calm, soothe, and encourage the patient to begin healing. Think about it.

In the meantime, if  is not your practice to talk to the patient that you’re operating on, you should know that research shows that when patients listen to soothing music through headphones, they recover better and with less PONV. Get your patients the Surgical Serenity Solutions preloaded headphones, with soothing, slow and completely instrumental music. They will definitely thank you for this!