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Greetings by your Doctor- how do you like it?

The Archives of Internal Medicine had an interesting article about patient preferences for how a doctor greets them. Over 78% of patients want the physician to shake their hand. (I hardly ever shake hands with a patient! Why pass those germs?)

Over 50% want the doctor to greet them with their first name and 56.4% want the doctor to introduce his/her self using first and last name. (I always do this).

The study videotaped patient-doctor interactions and in over 50% of initial encounters the doctor did not mention the patient's name at all.

I found this interesting. I was always trained that unless instructed otherwise, patients should be greeted as Mr. or Ms. I train my staff to speak to patients in a formal manner unless the patient says "Oh, please call me Susan". Of course after a long relationship, everyone is on a first name basis. We are like family!

Other studies I have read said patients like to see the physician in a white lab coat and they like name badges. I have a white coat with my name embroidered above the pocket and I couldn't function without the many pockets a coat provides for my pens, booklets, hammers, stethoscope, measures, palm pilot and other tools of the trade.

So, did the study get it right? What is your preference in greeting and dress code from your doctor?


Unknown said…
The white lab coat with nametag is big with me, too. It visually says, "of all the things we could talk about, we're here to talk about health." I also prefer the doctor to introduce herself/himself with first and last name---just as the white coat suggests what is special, the first and last name suggest the humanity we share.
Dimi3 said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dimi3 said…
I like to see my doctor in white coat with his/her name embroidered, where after this name is title and many of different letters that I don't understand. Gives me assurances. With visible stethoscope (like some magik wand?).
And he/she should address me by my name (or at least once during my visit)
I agree of germ point and on full name introduction, not only first or last, too.
I have one point.
Importance of touch.
Can doctors make physical contact with patient (on forearm or shoulder, example)at least once, during their patient visit? Touch therapy is one of the oldest form of treatment in the world, having first been described in China during second century BC and soon in India and Egypt.
And it will save some money to the hospitals and patients, too!
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Thank you for mentioning the importance of touch, Dimitri. As we get more and more high tech, with electronic tools and tests, the "laying on of hands" becomes even more important. High Tech-High Touch is the best Big Medicine.
Anonymous said…
My doctor dresses like strawberry shortcake in big long dresses. She has maniac red curly hair and yet i swear by her.
Strangely she usually greets me with "How are you?" which i find amusing as I am in a doctors surgery. Sometimes i feel like repsonding by saying "I'm all good just dropped in to say hi and see what you were doing."
Doc doesn't shake hands but you can feel that she is empathetic and she comes across as a warm caring kind of person. Its all in her manner.
She's also about the only person on earth that is allowed to give me needles because she doesn't hurt when she does it and apologises profusely if you flinch.
Toni Brayer, MD said…
You've found a good one, Kate. As you point out, it's not just the image, it's all about the caring (and the knowledge!).
I like my doctor to be personable. In that he/she does not treat me like just another number. As a person who delivers patient care I see coworkers addressing patients just as sir or maam. I feel that is so impersonal. I would much rather be called by my frist name.

I don't care about the labcaot thing. A doctor can wear a bathing suit as long as he/she earns my trust and confidence.
Anonymous said…
Our code of conduct says that providers shall not use first names until or unless the patient indicates that this is appropriate.
Unknown said…
Spending time and listening are biggy's for me. I had a chiropractor who ran his patients through like cattle! Roll'm Roll'm Roll'm.
Unknown said…
I often sense an EGO trip comes along with the white coat thing especially with the new ones but either way they are fine with me if they are friendly and have a sense of humor about them!
My doctors I have had for the last 30 yrs have all wore regular clothes. However, I did go to a chiropractor who ran people through his office like cattle! Roll'm Roll'm Roll'm Raw Hiiiide!
Greg P

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