Intended for healthcare professionals


Guy Fawkes's influence on medicine after 400 years

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 03 November 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1091
  1. Peter McCann, specialist registrar in general internal medicine and geriatrics (
  1. Preston

    I recently criticised for one of my lectures. Curiously, the criticism was not about the contents of the lecture, but rather how its contents were delivered. One of the more senior doctors approached me after the lecture and told me how disappointed he was at my habitual use of what he clearly thought were derogatory terms such as guy and chap when I was describing patients.

    Did I really use those terms that often, I thought? I wondered whether it was indeed a sin to use these words. The senior doctor felt it was insulting to patients to describe them as such and that these words were an unwelcome “Americanism.” When I am on a ward round or in clinic I have always felt it important to address people politely when speaking to them directly. However, over the next few weeks I did notice that when talking about patients to my colleagues I often referred to them as “this guy last week.”

    This got me thinking even …

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