Taylor Swift in the Cath Lab? Music in the Cath Lab Debate

Does music play during procedures in your lab? Who chooses the music?

A recent study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that "when plastic surgeons listen to music they prefer, their surgical technique and efficiency when closing incisions is improved," says a University of Texas Medical Branch press release.

While many studies have been conducted supporting the idea that music reduces stress and promotes efficiency for operating room staff, this study adds to a more limited evidence base that suggests music can improve technical performance and speed of a procedure.

Why does it matter? Reducing the time of a procedure can lead to significant cost savings, of course, and in cardiac emergencies where "time is muscle," promoting procedure efficiency is key to providing quality care.

But should the cardiologist control music in the cath lab?

Music playing during procedures might also improve the experience for the patient. "Music therapy effectively reduces sensations of pain and distress, opiate need and administration, and patients' perceptions and manifestations of pain and anxiety," says the UTMB study.

In the arena of cardiology, stress responses can be particularly dangerous to "an already compromised cardiovascular system," says Aleksandr Dzyuin, RN, BSN, RCIS, PCCN-CMC in Cath Lab Digest.

Does that mean the patient should choose the music? A 2011 study published in the journal Clinical Research in Cardiology suggests otherwise. Using a randomized controlled trial, the authors rejected a hypothesis that the "patient's choice of preferred music might yield higher benefits than a randomized assignment."

Maybe the Doctor really does know best.

2014 study published in the Journal of Invasive Cardiology suggested further that "the effect of music therapy on patients undergoing cardiac catheterization has been inconsistent in previous studies," and the authors' analysis did not find any statistically significant effects on endothelial function, hemodynamics, or patient satisfaction.

So let's remove the patient's choice from the table. Should the cardiologist decide on music, or should the entire team decide? Are the benefits too small to justify any potential debates over what, exactly, should be playing? Is it easier and better for the patient's safety to eliminate the option of music?

If the Doctor does control the music, how far should his preference extend? Is anything---say, hip-hop or pop music---off the table? The real question is this: would you ever hear Taylor Swift playing in the Cath Lab?

What if you hate Taylor Swift? Or start singing along?

music in the cath lab debate

What music, if any, plays during your procedures? Who chooses what plays? Has it ever been a topic of debate for your organization or team? How does YOUR lab handle music?

One thought on “Taylor Swift in the Cath Lab? Music in the Cath Lab Debate

  1. We allow the patient to have a say in the selection of the music. They are part of the “team” in our cath labs. If they say that they have no preference, then the staff picks the music. If a physician is dragging their feet in getting the cases done, I pick the music that I want. No body likes my choice of music so this ensures that the cases get done in a timely manner.

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