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Use of medical titles by non-doctors can mislead patients

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d4241 (Published 20 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4241
  1. Waseem Jerjes, research registrar in surgery, Chase Farm Hospital, London,
  2. Tahwinder Upile, consultant surgeon, Chase Farm Hospital, London
  1. w.jerjes{at}ucl.ac.uk
ROB WHITE

The increasingly widespread use of doctors’ titles by non-medical professionals in clinical settings is a serious concern. The BMA has commented on the problem of job titles that confuse patients, suggesting that those such as “consultant” and “surgeon” should not be used by non-clinicians because they cause confusion among patients (www.bma.org.uk/patients_public/whos_who_healthcare/glossallied.jsp).

In a survey of 262 members of the public by the British Orthopaedic Trainees Association 95% of the public and 84% of healthcare professionals thought that a person using the title “consultant podiatric surgeon” had a registered medical qualification—that is, that he or she was a medically qualified doctor. Obviously when these titles are used in …

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