Noise Pollution in the Operating Room

Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist Education including Reduction Strategies and Tools

  • Tyler A.C. Davis-Sandfoss University of Cincinnati
  • Rachel Smith-Steinert University of Cincinnati



Noise pollution in the operating room (OR) poses a threat to both patients and providers. Sound levels often exceed recommended standards set forth by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The purpose of this project was to examine current evidence and implement education for student registered nurse anesthetists (SRNAs) regarding noise pollution in the OR. The education module emphasized the effect of increased noise levels on the delivery of an anesthetic, with a focus on resultant sequelae.


A literature review produced 117 articles, of which thirty-five were included for analysis. Systematic reviews, randomized and non-randomized control trials, cohort studies, case studies, qualitative studies and expert opinion were all considered. A research based education module was delivered to SRNAs. A pre-test and post-test methodology was utilized to assess the efficacy of the education module for SRNAs.

Analysis of Results:

Results generated from the education module illustrate a knowledge deficient of student registered nurse anesthetists pertaining to noise reduction, cognitive demand, and attention allocation. Post-test scores (M=90%) for SRNAs who completed the education module were significantly greater than pre-test scores (M=60%).  t(39)= 10.1, p = 1.88 x 10-12.

Recommendations for Practice:

Noise pollution is a complex, multifactorial problem. The physical, psychological and emotional effects of noise pollution are the inability to critically think, impaired team communication, chronic hearing loss, increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, and medical error. Emphasis placed on sustaining and integrating noise reduction education into curriculum schemas of nurse anesthesia programs is prudent. Educational content delivered to all anesthesia providers and the interdisciplinary care team in the operating room would be a comprehensive plan. Although several national initiatives are in place to reduce noise, it is imperative that knowledge is shared and interventions implemented to protect both provider and patient. Furthermore, there should be a collaboration amongst a variety of surgical specialties to continue research pertaining to the production of noise in the operating room.

Keywords: Anesthesia, Noise, Noise pollution, Operating room, Occupational safety

How to Cite
DAVIS-SANDFOSS, Tyler A.C.; SMITH-STEINERT, Rachel. Noise Pollution in the Operating Room. Anesthesia eJournal, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 1, p. 1-5, dec. 2020. ISSN 2333-2611. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 03 feb. 2023.