The title “Doctor” is an anachronism that disrespects patientsBMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6240 (Published 25 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6240
- Ashley Graham Kennedy, assistant professor of philosophy and assistant professor of clinical biomedical science (secondary), Florida Atlantic University, 5353 Parkside Drive, Jupiter, FL 33458, USA
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? I’m Dr Smith,” she said. It turned out that she held a doctorate in clinical psychology.
Treated with respect
The woman’s point was clear: she introduced herself to the …