While the physician who wrote a letter stated that patients’ surnames are not to be used due to HIPAA regulations, "especially in reception areas," in the privacy of the exam room, providers need to confirm the full name and date of birth of the new patient in front of him or her ["Physicians are not intending disrespect," Just Sayin’," June 12]. It then behooves the provider to ask the patient how he or she prefers to be addressed.
The doctor writing to defend physicians’ intentions in using a patient’s first name stated that his physicians refer to him by his first name and that it is "perfectly acceptable" to him. The key here is that the use of his first name was acceptable to him. Another doctor might have another preference. Indeed, all deserve to be treated with respect.
Spending a moment verifying a patient’s identity and clarifying what name and title the patient prefers is best practice and represents the beginning of a collaborative doctor-patient relationship.
Debra Smith, Setauket