Staff should treat patients with respect and courtesy
A recent letter writer raised an issue that is near and dear to me. He is absolutely correct that, in a professional setting, it is appropriate and necessary to use courtesy titles. Interestingly enough, the very people who disregard “professionalism” are the ones who demand it the most.
Medical provider facility personnel will tell customers they can’t use their last names because of HIPAA. Rubbish! There is a provision of HIPAA called “incidental disclosure.” It was addressed in 2002. Medical offices, laboratories, etc., may use sign-in sheets. They may use the person’s name to call him to the examination or treatment room. What they may not disclose is the condition or reason for the visit.
Medical office personnel use the excuse that addressing a customer as “sweetheart” or “honey” is intended to put the customer at ease. That is, in my opinion, merely an attempt to reinforce the subordinate role of customers in medical facilities. I always correct staff when they do that and I do it in the waiting room. Not only do I correct staff, but I also remind the physician or nurse practitioner that I am to be addressed by my title (Dr. or Mrs.) and surname. I do not address providers by their given name. I extend the same courtesy I expect of them. Respect is a two-way street. Medical consumers have the right to be treated with respect, courtesy and professionalism.
Kay V. Adamczak, D.B.A.