Doc-patient “labels” trouble this physician, too


I sometimes think I’m the only one bothered by those who refer to physicians as providers, so it was great to see my opinion shared by the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Family Practice (Don’t call me a provider. J Fam Pract. 2013;62:60). I plan on passing along Dr. Hickner’s editorial to several colleagues and will now be more inclined to correct others who call the physicians in our group “providers.”

I feel the same way when I hear patients referred to as “consumers,” a label that still appears in the lay press. Economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman shared my sentiments in a column in The New York Times.1

“How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as ‘consumers’?” Krugman wrote. “The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. … Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car. …”

I could not agree more.

Jeffrey T. Kirchner, DO
Lancaster, Pa

The author is a member of The Journal of Family Practice’s editorial board.

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