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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

By necessity, great communicators: How doctors address their patients

Dr. Anne Marie Valinoti's story:
A physician friend of mine made the mistake of calling a woman of a certain age by her first name during a visit. "That's Mrs. White, thank you," she told him, icily.

"I never forgot that one," he said, remembering how he had sheepishly finished her exam.

But most patients, especially those under age 65, prefer doctors to use their first name, according to a study in the British Medical Journal. Since patients' preferences vary greatly, doctors should ask; they shouldn't assume.

Great primary care doctors are, by necessity, great communicators. All communication starts with what we call each other.

Advice: If you don't want your doctor to call you by your first name, tell them, or their office manager.

Read a story about excellent physician-patient communication. Thanks to Dr. Valinoti for the source story in today's New York Times.

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