Surgical masks and blood shields worn by anesthesiologists and surgeons in hospital operating rooms may negatively impact speech communication and put patients at needless risk. Young adult subjects listened to sentences from the Speech Perception in Noise Test (SPIN) recorded by a male and female talker. All eight SPIN lists were recorded under three different speaking conditions: 1) speaking normally without any obstruction, 2) wearing a typical surgical mask, and 3) wearing a surgical mask with an attached blood shield. Multi-talker babble was mixed with the SPIN sentences at several signal-to-noise ratios to simulate conversation in noisy environments. Speaker gender and recording conditions were counterbalanced across listeners to control for learning and fatigue effects. SPIN test scores for each of the three types of recordings and both talker genders were compared in order to determine the degradation that blood-shields and surgical masks may have speech communication in the operating room. [Research supported by research grants from the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences and a scholarship from the College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University.]

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