Listening and Anesthesia Quality

By October 26, 2018Uncategorized

In recent years, the Association of American Medical Colleges has prioritized empathy as a critical skill for physicians to employ in their practice, detailing that by the end of medical school, students will “value the importance of curiosity, empathy, and respect in patient care”.[1] Inherent in empathy is the art of listening, that is, that physicians have the ability to hear their patients’ concerns, empathize with the emotions behind the concerns, and respond appropriately with reference to the patient’s state at that moment in their care journey. Anesthesiologists and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are particularly well aligned with initiatives in listening and empathy. Patients may harbor anxiety about the onset of surgery, particularly if they have not yet undergone a procedure that required anesthesia. While the surgeons will assuage fears about the procedure, it is the duty of the anesthesiologist to speak with the patient regarding the anesthesia itself. As anesthesia consultants and providers, anesthesiologists and CRNAs are in a critical role for quality of care. During this interaction, it is crucial for the anesthesiologist, or CRNA, to employ empathetic listening.

In addition to the humanistic benefits of listening, recent literature now suggests that listening to the patient may improve quality of care with regards to anesthesia. In Anesthesiology, Dr. Fleisher asserts that patient expectations towards care have changed, and patients now expect physicians to be receptive towards listening to patient concerns[2]. To achieve this aim, anesthesiologists should align with an institutional code of conduct that places the patient at the center of the listening paradigm. In this fashion, the anesthesio