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How should nurses address patients?

  • Comments (71)

How should nurses address patients and is it appropriate to ask to use first names? What do you think?

We will be discussing this on twitter using #patientnames

The recently published Dignity Code by the National Pensioners Convention, says that older people should be addressed formally, rather than by their first name.

Last week Delivering Dignity, a report from the Commission on Dignity in Care for Older People, also highlighted problems with the language used to describe patients. It criticised the use of terms such a bed blocker, or referring to patients by their conditions for example as “the stroke”.

Should nurses always address patients as Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms unless invited to use their first name?

  • Comments (71)

Readers' comments (71)

  • Just wanted to mention that I have represented nurses who have faced professional disicplinary investigations by the Trust and the NMC for using colloquialisms and nicknames in the workplace, even towards colleagues and supervisors to which patients and their family members have taken exception- however innocent and well intentioned they might have been! Not just in their language to describe patients. Beware!!

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  • Anonymous

    I am totally against stereotyping, classifying or labelling any human being.

    I believe patients and others must be addressed in the way they are accustomed and according to their wishes.

    I believe people who work together in a multidisciplinary team should be totally free to address each other how they wish and should have the freedom to work in a relaxed, collegial and friendly atmosphere without social, age or any other barriers and without any outside intervention.

    I believe that if anybody calls another by their first name this must be reciprocal to avoid any artificial barriers between two individuals.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 19-Mar-2012 2:06 pm

    well said.

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  • Anonymous

    when i meet anew patient i always introduce myself and then ask them what they would like to be called. the majority of patients asked to be called by their first name,some have nick names and i have only ever come across 1 patient who has requested to be called miss in my nursing career.

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  • Anonymous

    If you work in fast turnover wards it is not easy to remember names, and by the sounds of it it is safer not to say anything if you cannot remember a name. I have referred to patients (out of a patients hearing)at handover time as a bed number and there is no malice intended. We nurses are human not computers some nurses remember names better than others. If nurses will still be working at 68 then patients will be called all sorts of wrong names.

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  • Anonymous

    I don't know what age you are, but assume you are a long way from 68, when you assume that everyone goes ga ga!

    If you cannot be bothered to learn the names of your patients, I suggest that you are more suited to MacDonald's than nursing.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 20-Mar-2012 8:02 am

    It is very unsafe to have staff suffering from memory loss in nursing, responsible for looking after patients, and making excuses to try and justify it is even worse.

    Perhaps it would be better to employ a 68 year old with more social intelligence and respect for others with a good memory instead.

    It is derogatory to suggest that those who are 68 years old are incapable of remembering the names of their patients!
    Their capabilities are probably what has kept them in the profession until then.

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  • Anonymous

    there should obligatory memory testing for all nurses. after all it would be highly dangers not to remember their names and confuse them with another patient.

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 20-Mar-2012 1:56 pm

    Obviously should read 'dangerous'. I submitted my comment in a hurry to respond to an e-mail.

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  • Anonymous

    the problem is that if nurses or other hc workers have a careless attitude in one aspect of care or in their respect for others it tends to reflect in other areas of care as well.

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