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Doctors shouldn’t reveal so much

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 11 June 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2495

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Re: Doctors shouldn’t reveal so much

Dear Daniel,

I would like to thank you for using the female pronoun for the barrister and pilot. It may not have been deliberate, but it is rare to see this done and it does not go unnoticed.

On the substance, I must agree with the previous comment. Although we maintain an appropriate professional boundary in work, there is lots that would make the medical profession both more tolerable to its members and more human to our patients which would be no bad thing. I would be in favour of relaxing the dress codes, for example. Men , who have the luxury of being assumed to be a doctor without the title, often use their first names with patients. I think that's a good move away from the paternalistic model, although it clearly has limitations.

I wonder also, if you have confused discussion of difficult medical questions, or indeed ethical questions - which may well be best kept in the medical press - and the absolutely political issues of staffing, stress, burnout, and working conditions. If those discussions are not had openly then we cannot hope to achieve change. We should not stifle the reality of working in an NHS system under immense financial and political pressure. In these cases, it is not our professionalism we call into doubt, but the resources of our environment.

A factor I would like to raise here is patient confidentiality, and the recent Share a Story in One Tweet demonstrated how easily that can be messed up.


Competing interests: No competing interests

15 June 2018
Emma L Runswick
Medical Student