Anesthetized and hidden beneath a veil of blue drapes with only a small section of flesh exposed, it is possible to forget that there is a living person on the operating table. From the surgical side of the drapes, often the focus is necessarily specific and limited, while from the head of the operating table (generally speaking), physician anesthesi-ologists take a much broader view of the patient and situation. I think this difference reflects our role, not only in surgical theaters but in medicine.

The original seal for the American Society of Anesthesiologists was approved in 1932 and consisted of “the pilot wheel, perfect circle, shield, stars, clouds, moon, ship, sea and lighthouse. The motto is VIGILANCE. The patient is represented as the ship, sailing the troubled sea with clouds of doubt, waves of terror, yet being guided by...

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