Blog | Friday, January 30, 2009

Where no one knows your name

Do your patients know your name? According to a new Archives study of inpatients at an academic center, probably not. When researchers asked hospital patients to name one of the physicians caring for them, 75% couldn't come up with anything. Of the 700 who had an answer, only 40% got at least one name (out of the attendings, hospitalists, interns and residents caring for them) correct.

Study authors suggested hanging photos of treating physicians in patient rooms to remedy the problem, or having everyone wear more obvious explanatory nametags. They don't discuss the aesthetic downsides of these solutions. After all, if patients don't even bother to learn your name, how likely is that they want to lie in bed staring at your face all day?

Perhaps supporting this argument, the study also found that patients who could name a physician were most likely to be dissatisfied with their care. If they're only learning your name so they can complain, maybe you'd be better off stuffing that nametag in your pocket.