If you haven’t been following the wonderful Dr Kate Granger on twitter, #hellomynameis is her bold and brilliant attempt to get healthcare workers to introduce themselves. She was admitted to hospital with a serious medical condition and was seen by a series of doctors and nurses of different grades, none of whom told her their name.
Being ill, or even thinking that you might be ill, is anxiety provoking – it stops you thinking clearly, it makes it very hard to remember almost anything, and some of us, myself included, have problems remembering names at the best of times.
Kate asked for some ideas to give #hellomynameis some traction.
I think every NHS worker, doctors in particular, should carry some cards with their name and position and contact details and give them to the patient or relative/ carer so that they know who they have seen. My father has several different medical conditions and can never remember after an appointment if he saw the consultant, a trainee or a nurse specialist, let alone their name.
My patients are the same, they come back from their outpatient appointments confused by what they’ve been told about their disease and the plans for management and can almost never remember who they’ve seen.
Patients who don’t have their own GP frequently complain that they see a different doctor every time and cannot remember who it was they saw last time, but wouldn’t mind seeing them again, if only so they don’t have to repeat their story.
If in each of these situations the doctor had given the patient a card, then the patient or relative or GP would be able to ask to speak to the right doctor in case of concerns or complications.
Often during an in-patient stay, and sometimes during an outpatient visit patients meet a bewildering number of doctors. To mitigate the confusion of having a box-full of cards to take away, hospitals should take responsibility for the cards which should all include the name of a consultant, so that lines of responsibility are clear.
Once it started to become normal practice, patients would start asking if they weren’t offered one. It would improve continuity of care and accountability, increase trust, reduce anxiety, save time and embarrassment.
For more on #hellomynameis click on names