Author: David M. Broussard, M.D.
ASA Monitor 03 2016, Vol.80, 8-9.
As physician anesthesiologists, we may be called upon to demonstrate our mastery over multiple dimensions of professionalism during any patient encounter. Our knowledge and technical skills as well as our communication and coordination capabilities can be challenged, even in what were at the outset routine cases. While a singular, all-inclusive definition for professionalism in anesthesiology remains elusive, I would submit that nowhere are these aspects of care recognized as a success or failure so conclusively as during the postoperative visit.
In the popular business book Flawless Execution author and former fighter pilot James D. Murphy emphasizes the importance of the debriefing in order to optimize team performance over time. This process is described in the context of a fighter squadron following completion of a military mission. Key highs and lows of the mission are reviewed and lessons learned are incorporated into the group knowledge in order to increase the chances for success under similar circumstances in the future. Within the anesthesia world, the postoperative visit is our best opportunity for data-gathering if we are to similarly improve the care we provide to our patients over time. In this article, I will focus on two professionalism-related outcomes that we can evaluate in our postoperative visits. These include professional advocacy with the public and the patient experience of care.