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October 8, 1982

Use of First Names

Author Affiliations

Overland Park, Kan

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

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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