Here’s an intriguing letter from one John Doherty, published in the BMJ yesterday:
Medical titles may well reinforce a clinical hierarchy and inculcate deference in Florida, as Kennedy writes, but such constructs are culture bound.
When I worked in outback Australia the patients called me “Mate,” which is what I called them.
They still wanted me to be in charge.
Intriguing enough for me to go and have a look at what this Kennedy person had written. It’s available here, and the headline goes like this:
The Title “Doctor” in an Anachronism that Disrespects Patients
Oooooo-kay. A strong claim, and my hackles are immediately raised by the use of “disrespect” as a verb – or as a word at all. (Don’t ask me why I detest that so; I don’t know. It’s just one of those things that I will never be able to tolerate, a bit like quiche.) But let’s see… It’s not a long piece, but even so, I’ll settle for the edited highlights:
Medical titles reinforce a clinical hierarchy and frame the physician-patient relationship as a deferential one, which is hardly appropriate in person centered care.
A while ago I spent some time shadowing hospital doctors. On one of my shifts, a woman was brought to the emergency department. A physician entered the patient’s room and introduced himself in the usual way.
“Hello, Ms Smith,” he said, “I’m Dr Jones. I will be taking care of you.” The woman visibly stiffened after hearing this introduction. This seemed odd, until I heard her reply: “Well, isn’t that nice?
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