There are scores, if not hundreds, of aphorisms about communication. “It’s not what is said, it’s what is heard.” “It’s not what is said, it’s how one says it.” “The most important part of a conversation is hearing what is not said.” “The root of all problems is a problem with communication.” Each of these adages rings a bit true. It is interesting that, as much as we and our anesthesia care team members communicate, we aren’t so much better at it.

To illustrate this issue, let’s look at just a couple of ways we communicate with our patients. Everything we discuss hopefully takes place during a routine preoperative anesthetic evaluation. We’ll mention the use of a computer during this visit. Then we’ll discuss obtaining informed consent. In each area, some pitfalls of the manner in which we articulate information to the patient will be presented. For those of you...

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