Music in the Theatre

Another One Bites the Dust

Most days when I am operating, I choose a playlist on my iPhone and plug it into the speaker. I don’t have it on particularly loud, but I do have it playing, as to create background noise. Silence can often convey tension, and I find people work better together when everyone is relaxed. Often, patients will comment on the background music as they are being wheeled into the operating theatre, and some appreciates it as it takes their minds off on what’s to come. Sometimes I use it as a topic for conversation, to distract the patient as he or she is going to sleep.

My playlists consist of a wide range of music. I remember trying to load up my husband’s iPhone with music a few years ago, so he too can play music in the operating theatre. I asked him what he wanted on it. He told me whatever I want. The next question that came out of my mouth was, ‘Do you want something you like, or something that’s cool?’ It took me a while afterwards to realise why he was sulking.

I have lots of playlists. One for early in the day, all calm smooth jazzy stuff, then one full of pop and lively tunes for the afternoon. I even have a playlist called ‘closing music’, just something to put on when I am finishing up a long case – the first song being ‘We gotta get out of this place’ by The Animals.

Lately, the shuffling on my playlists seems to have a life of its own, with very bad timing. Just a week ago, I noticed my patient’s eyes look at me in horror as he was going to sleep. I couldn’t work out what was causing his distress until I realised that the sound system was softly playing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’. It was not the first time in the last month that my playlists have shown impeccable timing and bad taste. Because the week before, Queen was blaring ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ as my patient was being wheeled into the operating room.

So here I have compiled a list of songs that should not be played when patients are about to have surgery. I have erased them from my work playlists.

Knockin On Heavens Door – Guns N Roses and Bob Dylan

Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton

Dancing with Mr D – The Rolling Stones

Kill you – Eminem

Ready to Die – The Notorious B.I.G.

Great Gig in The Sky – Pink Floyd

If Tomorrow Never Comes – Ronan Keating

Killing Me Softly – The Fugees

Now if anyone else can think of any other inappropriate songs that they may not want to hear as they are being put to sleep, please feel free to add to the list.





18 thoughts on “Music in the Theatre

  1. Hahaha. Funny. Again! Here’s some I came up with: Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks, Spirit in the Sky covered by Doctor and the Medics, Last Kiss covered by Pearl Jam, Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult and pretty much anything by Justin Bieber, Canada’s worst export. Listening to him will have your patients stampeding towards the light.

  2. Hilarious!!

    I would add Bad day from Daniel Powter or The first cut is the deepest from Sheryl Crow as songs I wouldn’t want to hear before an op. And let’s not forget Die young from Keisha.

  3. Ha ha…funny. I am a bit knackered to come up with some stuff right now, but I am sure that during the day I will think of something, or one of my own tunes that I listen to non-stop will speak up!

    I like that question hubby asked – stuff you like or cool stuff? lol

  4. “I Just Died in Your Arms [Tonight]”-Cutting Crew. It is definitely catchy, though!

    When shadowing a liver transplant a few months ago, I think my favorite jam was Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”. It came on twice and no one complained. So good. [Good] music certainly makes all the difference in the OR.

  5. Funny thing… I only have ever heard music in the OR once and it was during brain surgery. Can’t remember what it was, either. Of course that was way before playlists were invented. :-/

  6. I had this consultant whose spooky playlist consisted only of classical music…..Bach…Chopin…. That is not the spooky part…. the tempo and mood of the music always seemed the match the stage of the procedure,,,Like an intense, important part will always have a sombre tune in the background…. Its almost as if, Mr Bach and Dr D are in concert together….Dr D was a showman in the theatre though!

    • You see, I have issues with classical music, because I studied music before medicine, I will actually lose concentration if classical music was playing while I am operating…. I would turn my attention in analyzing and thinking about the music! Not to mention everyone in theatre moans and groans whenever I put it on!!! Heathens, I say, heathens. :-p

      • Yep! The only reason the scrub nurses tolerated his music was because he was brilliant and super quick! And without his music, he’s one cranky surgeon! The senior resident chosen (that was me for a year!), is responsible for having the playlist ready and playing as he enters….even the volume has to perfectly adjusted!

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