Anaesthetic Safety: What Do Patients Understand and Expect?


  • Lowri Edwards School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland


Anaesthesiology, Informed consent, Patient expectations, Patient satisfaction, Patient-centered care


• Patients’ satisfaction depends on their prior expectations. These, in turn, are influenced by their understanding of a procedure.

• Provision of adequate pre-operative information can improve patients’ perioperative outcomes.

• Patients’ understanding of information provided may be optimised by employment of techniques including consolidation by multiple team members throughout the pre-operative period and the presence of a companion during consultations.

• A relative lack of awareness surrounding the anaesthesia and the role of the anaesthesiologists are contributing factors towards patient anxiety.

• A careful balance must be obtained between providing enough information to facilitate informed decision-making without causing unnecessary stress.

• Causes of patients’ perioperative anxiety are variable and are often underestimated. Efforts to acknowledge and alleviate this anxiety are known to have therapeutic benefit.

• Patients’ expectations of anaesthesia are influenced by a multitude of individual, social and cultural factors. This highlights the importance of meaningful discussion with the patient and a tailored approach to the pre-operative consenting procedure.

• In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the good health of healthcare workers is increasingly being recognised as a priority for ensuring patient safety.


Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. Expectation: Oxford University Press; 2020
[Available from: american_english/expectation].
2. Heidegger T, Saal D, Nuebling M. Patient satisfaction with anaesthesia care: what is patient satisfaction, how should it be measured, and what is the evidence for assuring high patient satisfaction? Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2006;20(2):331-46.
3. Lateef F. Patient expectations and the paradigm shift of care in emergency medicine. J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2011;4(2):163-7.
4. Royal College of Anaesthetists. You and your anaesthetic, 2020 [5th edition:[Available from: documents/2020-05/02-YourAnaesthetic2020web.pdf].
5. Soejima K, Goto A, Vu PT, Bien le HT, Vinh NQ, Minh PN, et al. Perception of anesthesia safety and postoperative symptoms of surgery patients in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: a pioneering trial of postoperative care assessment in a developing nation. Environ Health Prev Med. 2010;15(6):333-43.
6. Hadjistavropoulos HD, Dobson J, Boisvert JA. Information provision, patient involvement, and emotional support: prospective areas for improving anesthetic care. Can J Anaesth. 2001;48(9):864-70.
7. Isenberg SR, Aslakson RA, Dionne-Odom JN, Clegg Smith K, Singh S, Larson S, et al. Family companions’ involvement during pre-surgical consent visits for major cancer surgery and its relationship to visit
communication and satisfaction. Patient Educ Couns. 2018;101(6):1066-74.
8. O’Donnell BD, Iohom G. A cross-sectional survey of anaesthesia-related expectations amongst patients awaiting upper limb trauma surgery. Rom J Anaesth Intensive Care. 2017;24(2):133-8.
9. Smith A, Mannion S. Irish Patients Knowledge and Perception of Anaesthesia. Ir Med J. 2013;106(2):50-2.
10. Irwin M, Fung S, Tivey S. Patients’ knowledge of and attitudes towards anaesthesia and anaesthetists in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Med J. 1998;4(1):16-22.
11. General Medical Council. Consent: patients and doctors making decisions together 2008 [Available from: documents/content/Consent_-_English_0617.pdf].
12. Burkle CM, Pasternak JJ, Armstrong MH, Keegan MT. Patient perspectives on informed consent for anaesthesia and surgery: American attitudes. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2013;57(3):342-9.
13. Yentis SM, Hartle AJ, Barker IR, Barker P, Bogod DG, Clutton-Brock TH, et al. AAGBI: Consent for anaesthesia 2017: Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland. Anaesthesia. 2017;72(1):93-105.
14. Celik F, Edipoglu IS. Evaluation of preoperative anxiety and fear of anesthesia using APAIS score. Eur J Med Res. 2018;23(1):41.
15. Badner NH, Nielson WR, Munk S, Kwiatkowska C, Gelb AW. Preoperative anxiety: detection and contributing factors. Can J Anaesth. 1990;37(4 Pt 1):444-7.
16. Norris W, Baird WL. Pre-operative anxiety: a study of the incidence and aetiology. Br J Anaesth. 1967;39(6):503-9.
17. Shevde K, Panagopoulos G. A survey of 800 patients’ knowledge, attitudes, and concerns regarding anesthesia. Anesth Analg. 1991;73(2):190-8.
18. Carragee E, Vittum D, Truong T, Burton D. Pain control and cultural norms and expectations after closed femoral shaft fractures. Am J Orthop (Belle Mead NJ). 1999;28(2):97-102.
19. Association of Anaesthetists. World Patient Safety Day 2020. 2020 [Available from: World-Patient-Safety-Day-2020].
20. Riad W, Mansour A, Moussa A. Anesthesiologists work-related exhaustion: A comparison study with other hospital employees. Saudi J Anaesth. 2011;5(3):244-7.
21. Association of Anaesthetists. History of the Association of Anaesthetists 2020 [Available from:].




How to Cite

Edwards, L. . (2022). Anaesthetic Safety: What Do Patients Understand and Expect?. Trinity Student Medical Journal, 21(1), 8–10. Retrieved from