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Aye, Aye

Joseph J. Bellanca, MD
JAMA. 1987;257(1):73. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390010077035.
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I have learned many things during my 21-year career in Navy medicine, but the most important lesson has been the necessity for effective two-way communication, not only in medicine but in everything I do in life.

You may never have thought of a military order as effective, two-way communication, but it is and physicians have something to learn from it. The traditional Navy procedure for giving orders is an ingenious technique for preventing communication error. Orders are always short and simple in recognition of the beauty of brevity and the eloquence of simplicity. In addition, the receiver is expected to verbally repeat the order to the giver, followed by "Aye, Sir!" or "Aye, Ma'am!" Repeating the order demonstrates that it was heard correctly. Officer of the Deck: "Helmsman, come left to course two-five-zero." Helmsman: "Come left to course two-five-zero, aye, Sir!" The following "Aye, Sir!" has a specific meaning to


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