Increasingly, patients in hospital wards, and in hospital and doctor's waiting rooms are being forced to listen, either to other people's choice of music, or to the noise of their televisions.
Any unwanted music becomes a form of noise pollution that can irritate or depress, rather than entertain or divert, people who may already be suffering.
This is born out by a survey of 115 blood donors carried out at Nottingham University Medical School in 1995. It found that playing music made waiting donors more anxious before donating blood, and more depressed after donating, than silence.
If such outpatients (all healthy volunteers) feel like this, patients lying often immobilised in beds may suffer far worse. It is particularly unfair to trample on other people's rights to peace, when they are at their most vulnerable in hospital. Anyone who wants to listen to music or radio can do so easily through headphones.
In hospital wards and similar areas, most people have no means of escaping such music, some being literally immobilised in bed.
In waiting rooms, such noise often causes stress and anxiety to people who are already at their most anxious. Forcing people to suffer in this way as a condition of receiving medical help is unethical.