[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Article
October 8, 1982

Use of First Names

JAMA. 1982;248(14):1708. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330140022009

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.

Abstract

To the Editor.—  I'm writing in response to Mrs Lucille G. Natkins. She addresses a subject that has been discussed in the literature several times in recent months. I've heard it discussed in hospitals recently, both informally and formally. I must concur with Mrs Natkins wholeheartedly in that both medical care and self-respect are necessary. It is difficult indeed to have one without the other.One must keep in mind, however, that what constitutes self-respect for one person may signify loss of warmth and contact for another. Certainly, first-name relationships are less formal than last-name relationships. This informality may be unacceptable to some patients, just as it may be inappropriate in some employee-employer or other relationships.The situation she describes with formal-name-first-name inconsistencies certainly appears inappropriate, but it does occur. In my own practice, when seeing a new patient I ask her how she prefers to be addressed and note

×