Doctors and Their Surgery Playlists

It’s likely that If you have ever gone through surgery, your doctor was probably listening to their favourite music during the operations. However, these playlists have been a topic of debate throughout the medical field about the proper usage of music in operating rooms. Can music in fact, music surgeons focus or create potential danger?

What is the surgery playlists? Let’s start from the beginning, where everything started.

I can remember by childhood fondly throughout my adult life. One important memory I could recall is my visits to the doctor’s office. Whether it was a minor cold, or the intense burning throat sensation of strep throat, I could always depend on the aiding words of my doctor.

Patients In Doctors Waiting Room

Being a strong music lover, my memory of going to the doctor was always the soothing sound of relaxing instrumental music flowing out of the waiting room speakers. The music gave me such a rush of calmness that all of my young worries would leave my fragile mind for another time. But there is never a more anxiety driven experience then having a hardcore medical surgery.

The hours leading up to the impactful procedure, nervous energy fills you up as the unknowing becomes an apparent thought that worries the mind. “Don’t worry, you will be just fine!” the nurse would say to the patient in a cautious and or soft tone, as nervousness is a common feeling for all individuals going under the knife.

What’s more anxiety inducing is the doctors performing the detrimental act. Experienced doctors around the world have found that nerves come into play even for them before and during surgeries.

Many doctors have their own respective way to calm down their nerves, but one that has managed to be a popular subject for surgeons is actually listening to music during surgery!


Doctor! I Need Music!


Music has been an important aspect in surgery since 1914. Physician, Evan O’Neill Kane would obtain a gramophone for the operating rooms to help calm patients before and during anaesthesia.

It was the 1930s that became the time frame where music became even more common in the doctors’ offices around the world. Soft, relaxing and melodious music was preferred over jazz in terms of relieving the patients of anxiety.

Today, music is practically required in operating rooms. In 2011, various surgery staff in India proclaimed that music during operations is substantial. In the early 2000s, 63% of doctors and nurses in Israel proclaimed praises for prominent use of music for surgery.

What was once used for patient relaxation, in 1997, the United Kingdom found that 72% of operating facilitates required music for the staff. But, what type of music do doctors actually prefer?

Streaming sources such as Pandora and Spotify are popular in the surgical universe. Some rooms, even have built in docking stations for easy access of musical enjoyment. From the evolutionary sounds of classical music to the grungy sounds of heavy rock, doctors normally prefer upbeat music during operations.

Assistant professor in surgery of reconstruction at University of Texas Medical Branch, Andrew Zhang likes the pop sounds of Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Michael Jackson. Research was found that plastic surgery facilities make remarkable efforts of closing up incisions more accurately when having music in the atmosphere.

Surgeons and staff even worked 10% faster when accompanied by musical sounds. Through this notion, surgeons perform even better when they can pick the music they love!

Music presents doctors with a special type of noise. Heavy noise is normal for a surgical staff. According to, 40% of the time, operating rooms have a noise level of over 100 decibels. This is comparable to a hectic street.

Additionally, it has been researched that individuals in operation rooms on a regular basis are more prone or increased risk of hearing loss. But nonetheless, doctors have stated that music in operating rooms help mask stressful noise, which overall helps both patient and surgeon.


Doctor! I Don’t Need Music!

Doctor I Don´t Need Music
Doctor I Don´t Need Music

We have all encountered busy spaces of high volume. Places such as busy restaurants or busy train stations, cause a person to elevate their voice or impair focus in a more increasing way due to the intensity of the environment.

Imagine the same intensity one could have if the Harry Styles playlist was bursting through the operation speakers, as the surgeon assistance try to interpret orders from the doctor.  From raising their voice, interpreting direction, and missing important alarms, can music really be beneficial during surgery?

In 2008, Researcher Danilo Miskovic tested how music affected junior surgeons with a virtual surgery simulator. The results concluded that heavy music actually distracted them more than aided them.

Additionally, a 1994 study found in the Journal of the American Medical Association received strong criticism through their efforts of proving positive efforts towards usage of music for doctors.

The volunteers in the study was known to have an extreme liking to musical endeavours which caused extreme bias in their findings. This resulted in a possible obscure outlook on if music is actually beneficial during surgery.

Although positive feedback has come from surgeon’s music usage, the assistance and nurses of doctors could show otherwise.

Music has shown crucial negative effects toward the communication and distraction levels with assistances in the operation room.

In 1997, a study of anaesthesiologists concluded that 54% of researched individuals found music being distracting when a problem came up during surgery. 26% also stated that music impaired their focus and communication to the rest of the surgical staff.

So, music can in fact bring a relaxed nature to the operation room. Throughout the years, the surgical community has had constantly debate on musical aid.

This notion isn’t to hinder the process, but increase success and efficient outcomes for the patient. It comes down to valuable preference, not only for the surgeon but for the assistances as well.

Music is healthy for the soul, mind, and body and could heal any wound. It just goes to show that music can be one of the strongest forms of medication. Listen to the Surgery playlist here.

Photos: Shutterstock / Photomontages: Martina Advaney

Check out another music article here:

The Music of the Deaf Community

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