Medical emergencies: when music helps (Bonus Track)

The extra installment of this miniseries gives some suggestions for a special "ER" playlist, including hits like "Accidents Will Happen", "Save Me" or "In the Blood".

Music and emergency medicine

About the author: Prof. Nicolas Peschanski works as an Emergency Medicine consultant at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Rennes, France. Translated from the original French version

So far we looked at the relationship between music and operating theatres, emergency departments and patient care, and emergency response vehicles. The extra installment of this miniseries gives some suggestions for a special "ER" playlist, including hits like "Accidents Will Happen", "Save Me" or "In the Blood". Now, it's time for some playlists!

I was a PhD student. One Sunday morning, my thesis supervisor called me into the research lab and asked me what I was listening to when I was alone in the therapeutic research lab the week before. "Metallica, Led Zeppelin, some Kiss stuff too." And I felt compelled to add, "Tell me if this gets in the way of my work or if you have a problem with it..."

I should point out that I listen to a lot of music when I'm writing, especially when I'm alone, because paradoxically it helps me concentrate a lot. When I have an intense intellectual activity, I calm down and concentrate with the help of so-called "hard" music, thanks to which I am both in a focused state and very productive. During the thesis process, which put unprecedented demands on my ability to analyse complex physiopathological mechanisms, music played a major role in allowing me to fully appreciate the world of fundamental research.

Amazing, isn't it? A map of metal rock sub-genres (Source: Wikipedia)

That day, my director's response was: "Of course not, I love it!" I must admit that I was a bit stunned. Not only did this internationally renowned professor of pharmacology remember our past discussions about my taste in music - when we would normally talk about endothelial dysfunction or the sympathetic system - but he handed me a USB stick and said, "I'm really going to enjoy your playlist". He has since become a dear friend.

And the beat goes on…

There are programs all over the world that look into "medical music". Emergency medicine is no exception to this trend. Innovative studies, randomised controlled trials are underway, sometimes using talented musicians.

These numerous research projects aim to demonstrate that music has a place in emergency care. Its positive impact can be on the quality and cost of care, for example, on the use of analgesics, or on overall patient satisfaction. There is no doubt that our working environment could do with more music, whether it is to improve our quality of life at work, strengthen team cohesion, or even develop new skills.

For all intents and purposes, here is a first eclectic playlist, very marked by the rock genre but adapted to my practice as an emergency physician. You are free to complete it, to update it, or why not to propose its jazz or electro counterpart.

I have classified the songs according to our two practice worlds but you can go further by using them in specific contexts: the outward journey in the emergency service vehicle, the return journey, the success of a difficult technical response, a moment of meditation, etc. You can also check out the playlist of the Rennes University Hospital Emergency Department (on Spotify). Enjoy!


Suggested listening for emergency response vehicles

For the emergency room

Feel free to share your favorite emergency ward tunes or playlists in the comments sections.