Something that sets Trauma & Orthopaedics apart from more specialties is the fact that we use power tools. Suffice to say that the tools of our trade that allow us to facilitate a persons quality of life come with drawbacks.
The volume in the operating theatres often exceeds 100dB with some tools reaching 130dB. Even in short burst that is too high. For context a conversation is 50dB, a hairdryer is 70dB and a jet engine taking off is 120dB.
Although we are all subject to age related hearing changes exposure to loud noises over a prolonged period can accelerate this.
It is personal interest that gave us the idea to have a look at sound exposure and we found a lot of literature on it so a systematic review was the next logical step.
The upshot is that our hearing is precious and it shouldn’t rest on the individuals in the operating theatre to protect themselves. Departments need to take responsibilities to protect their theatres teams.
My personal practice is to utilise protective ear plugs that permit conversation but drowns out the loud industrial sounds. However, when communication is key it is important to discuss this so everyone knows what is happening.
I try to mention in the team brief that I’ll use hearing protection, and communication strategies to ensure that everyone is heard and safe. I also encourage my colleagues to consider hearing protection too. So far, the experience has been comfortable and reassuring.