We often speak of the health care “team.” Where would we be without the most important part of the team – the patient?

As anesthesiologists, we are in a unique position to help our patients be part of the equation and be collaborators in their health care instead of passive participants. To be true patient advocates, we need to be able to communicate effectively with our patients. Much of communication is listening; if you listen to your patients, they will tell you what’s wrong and be empowered in their health care choices. Who hasn’t heard the new catch phrase, “patient-centered care?” Achieving patient-centered care requires that we educate our patients so they can articulate their thoughts, concerns and fears. Communication is an essential pathway to patient-centered medicine and building the collaborative relationships that we need to incorporate...

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