So I’m in the exam room recently with a new patient. After some initial dialog with the child and family, I launched into the business of problem solving. Ten minutes into my history the mother politely asks: “I’m sorry, and you are?…”
I hadn’t introduced myself. I had left my ID badge at my workstation, and by order of some innocent distraction with the child or family, I hadn’t identified myself immediately on entering the room. This is rare.
Sometimes I assume people will know who I am. But I don’t wear a white coat and my stethoscope is concealed. I wear clothes only good enough to sustain the barrage of regurgitation, urine, full-frontal coughs, and sloppy hugs that mark a successful clinic day. A colleague once told me I dress like an algebra teacher. I haven’t quite processed that one, but suffice it to say it’s easy to fall into a mistaken identity.
So I apologized and made a proper introduction. What’s remarkable is how far I went without the mother having any idea about my identity. I can imagine that it took a certain amount of wherewithal to interrupt the person she suspected was the doctor to ask such a basic question.
For patients, you should always know who’s working with you. For providers, you should be fastidious about your identification. And for state medical boards, it should probably be mandated that physicians wear clear identification.
In fact, a new Pennsylvania law will require physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals to wear photo identification badges that state their credentials in large block letters. According to a 2008 AMA survey, 96 percent of U.S. adults believe that healthcare professionals should display both their level of training and their legal licensure.
Have you had a close encounter with a mystery provider?
*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*