Health care workers try to put patients at ease

After retiring from the medical profession as an assistant and a medical coder, I am in awe over a recent letter writer’s comments. She has it all wrong. Calling a patient by her first name has not one thing to do with respect or HIPPA. It is our way of making the patient feel at ease and comfortable. Many times I have put my arm around the patient’s shoulder and said, “relax, whatever the problem is, it will be OK.”

I have also held patients’ hands while they receive a shot and they squeeze my hand so tight that I have had indentations from my ring. Small talk and inquiring about their family is another way of relaxing patients and diverting their attention while waiting for the doctor to come into the room. As for being corrected if you call a doctor by his or her first name, in 30 years I have never witnessed this. Physicians are human beings and the majority do not have a superior attitude. They are not in this profession to belittle anyone. It is a profession they chose to help mankind.

The relationship between a health care provider and a patient is a delicate balance of mutual respect, professionalism and trust. Calling you by your first name certainly does not erode this. When she signs in, she should put a little note, “no first name please,” and I am sure the staff and doctor will respect her request. Yes, I have hugged patients, called them honey, sweetie, dear and many other endearments. Their response? “Thank you for kindness, you made me feel less nervous.” How does your proper name humanize you?

Carmen A. Vecchio