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October 8, 1982

Use of First Names

JAMA. 1982;248(14):1708. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330140022008

To the Editor.—  Mrs Natkins' article (1982;247:2415) should be read by every physician, dentist, and hospital employee. I have been infuriated for years by the practice she describes. As Mrs Natkins points out, those in the medical field who call patients (mostly women) by their first names are subtly relegating them to an inferior level. This is a dehumanizing process.Hospital patients who are often in pain, worried, and frightened do not need any more problems. Having their last shred of dignity stripped away when strangers young enough to be their children call them by their first names is not conducive to helping morale. (As a retired RN from the era when all patients, regardless of social class, were respectfully addressed by their last names, I realize that there are a few occasions when calling a patient by his first name can stimulate consciousness.)My childrens' friends do not call