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Letter to the Editor

When a ‘Doctor’ Isn't a Physician

Emergency Medicine News: May 2019 - Volume 41 - Issue 5 - p 30
doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000558216.90325.7e
Letter to the Editor


I read with interest your articles about advanced practice providers in emergency medicine. (“AAEM Opposes NP and PA Independent Practice,” EMN. 2019;41[4]:2; and “Why Did AAEM Take a Stand Against APP Independent Practice?” EMN. 2019;41[4]:4;

A funny thing, in one of my shops, the administration took away our badges designating us “physicians” and replaced them with ones that said “doctor.” The stated reason was that patients were too ignorant to know what “physician” meant.

This is such a great example of fundamental attribution bias if the administration believed what it said, which it clearly didn't. The clear intent is to confuse patients.

The problem, though, will be in the courts. As more people call themselves “doctor” and wear white coats, the courts will use the concept of “reasonable person” to hold the person calling themselves “doctor” to the standard of “physician,” particularly if the environment (hospitals, not university lecture halls) leads said reasonable person to believe “doctor” equals “physician.” The correction might come, and it will be unpleasant.

Tom Benzoni, DO

Des Moines

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