Nothing frosts my cookies like having some twenty-five-year-old twinkie open the door to the inner sanctum and call out “AuntPam? The doctor will see you now.”
I was raised to believe that the appropriate form of address in professional situations is always–at least initially–“Mr. Smith” (or in my case “Ms. Smith.”) After saying firmly yet politely, “We haven’t been introduced; please call me Ms. Smith,” I’ve been told all too frequently “Oh ,we can’t do that–HIPAA (the act that protects patients’ medical privacy) says we can’t use last names.”
I see–there are zillions of people named “John” but only a few named “Smith.” Wait, there’s something wrong with that analysis…
I’ve pointed out that:
- I have a really common last name, so no chance it will “identify” me.
- HIPAA prohibits the release of specific medical information together with information sufficient to identify a person, and “the doctor will see you now” does not release any medical information at all. For all anyone knows, I could be a pharmaceutical salesperson, or there to check up on a relative, or an old school pal of the doc, just passin’ through. What is against the law is hollering “Oh, AuntPam ‘Smith’? We just got the results of your biopsy! Positive, I’m sorry to say. Wanna come in now?”
- Nobody, so far, can cite any actual regulation or even “best practice” that requires this little bit of condescending presumptiousness.
So–do any Dopers–especially any health-care employees–have a reliable cite to some organizational posting or regulation that requires admissions clerks to do this??
Because it annoys about a third of the patient population mightily. Why not just do the polite thing? (I’ll make an exception for situations where a child is being summoned, though they rarely go to the doctor’s office alone.)
And by the way, after I get to know the personnel at a doctor’s office, I’m quite likely to say “Oh, just call me AuntPam. Heck, you’ve seen me naked.”