Open Access Research article

Asymmetry in patient-related information disrupts pre-anesthetic patient briefing

Joerg Schnoor*, Anja Kupfer, Babette Jurack, Ulrike Reuter, Herrmann Wrigge, Steffen Friese and Volker Thieme

Author Affiliations

Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, University Hospital Leipzig, Liebigstr. 20, Leipzig 04103, Germany

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BMC Anesthesiology 2013, 13:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2253-13-29

Published: 4 October 2013



If one party has more or better information than the other, an information asymmetry can be assumed. The aim of the study was to identify the origin of incomplete patient-related preoperative information, which led to disruptions and losses of time during pre-anaesthetic patient briefing. We hypothesized that lower employees’ educational level increases the amount of disruptive factors.


A prospective observational study design was used. Patient selection was depending on the current patient flow in the area of the clinic for pre-anesthetic patient briefing. Data were collected over a period of 8 weeks. A stopwatch was used to record the time of disruptive factors. Various causes of time losses were grouped to facilitate statistical evaluation, which was performed by using the U-test of Mann and Whitney, Chi-square test or the Welch-t-test, as required.


Out of 221 patients, 130 patient briefings (58.8%) had been disrupted. Residents were affected more often than consultants (66% vs. 47%, p = 0.008). Duration of disruptions was independent of the level of training and lasted about 2,5 minutes and 10% of the total time of patient briefing. Most time-consuming disruptive factors were missing study results, incomplete case histories, and limited patient compliance.


Disruptions during pre-anesthetic patient briefings that were caused by patient-related information asymmetry are common and account for a significant loss of time. The resultant costs justify investments in appropriate personnel allocation.

Information asymmetry; Pre-anesthetic patient briefing; Disruptions; Time delay; Personnel costs