Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Letters Manners in medicine

What’s in a name?

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 15 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a687

Rapid Response:

Unsolicited Familiarity

Ms (Mrs? Dr? Lady?) Medrington is absolutely right about the
inequality of using patients first names; more acceptable if the doctor
uses their own first name.

It is clearly acceptable to address children by their first name but
the age of crossover to the more formal surname address is difficult to
guage.I use the age 18 , but some of the younger ones look at me in
incredulity when I address them as Mr X.

One significant problem is the number of people who stand up in the
waiting room when I ask for Mr Jones. I am also unsure how to address the
large number of women of uncertain marital status. "Ms" does not seem very
satisfactory, so I tend to mumble it. I wonder how the Germans solve this ?

Competing interests:
An ambigous first name

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 July 2008
Laurie R Davis
South Hermitage Surgery Shrewsbury SY3 7JS