"Hello My Name Is"... A Tribute to Dr Kate Granger

26 Jul 2016

sara bird

by Dr Sara Bird

Young female doctor sits smiling at desk

A recent survey of 300 patients in an Australian teaching hospital examined:

  • patients’ preferred mode of address from their healthcare providers
  • whether patients knew the names and roles of the members of their treating team.

Over 99% of patients preferred informal address, rather than formal address by title and surname

One third of patients preferred to be addressed by a name other than their legal first name, with 23% requesting an abbreviation of their first name and 12% asking to be called by another name entirely. The authors suggest asking patients about their preferred name during their initial presentation, recording this in the patients’ records and displaying this name above their bed.

The majority of patients (57%) were unable to correctly name a single member of their treating medical team

Of those patients who were able to name any of their doctors, 25% could name one, 10% could name two and only 8% could name three or more. Surgical patients were more likely (47%) than medical patients (39%) to be able to name at least one of their doctors. Junior doctors were poorly identified, with only 5% of patients naming the RMO and none correctly recalling the name of the intern. The authors suggest that doctors have either not properly introduced themselves, or relied solely on verbal introductions which patients tend not to recall.

The “hello my name is” campaign was started in the UK in 2013 by a physician, Dr Kate Granger, after she became frustrated about the number of staff who failed to introduce themselves to her when she was an inpatient undergoing treatment for sarcoma. Kate died on 23 July 2016.

Perhaps it is time for a similar program in Australian hospitals?

This blog contains general information only. We recommend you contact your medical defence organisation or insurer when you require specific advice in relation to medico-legal matters.



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