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Use of first names among medical staff… a patient safety issue?
  1. Jonathan Hinton1,
  2. Mark Signy2
  1. 1 Wessex Cardiothoracic Centre, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  2. 2 Cardiology Department, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Worthing, West Sussex, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jonathan Hinton, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK; jonathan.hinton{at}

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Patient safety relies on the interaction between healthcare professionals, organisational systems and clinical equipment. While this interplay is frequently complex, similar themes often emerge when adverse events are reviewed. One of the commonly described contributory factors is the rigid hierarchical structure of clinical teams within the National Health Service (NHS) which, despite these observations, frequently remains.1 2 This is particularly relevant to cardiologists because of our reliance on effective teamworking across a range of clinical settings. Furthermore, given the potential risks of procedures performed in the catheter laboratory, which are often time-critical, effective teamworking is essential.

In the 1970s the aviation industry noted that a steep hierarchy was an element in a number of catastrophes.1 One contributor to this hierarchy is the use of titles based on seniority because it creates a status difference, akin to the asymmetrical address used between adults and children.3 The aviation industry therefore mandated the use of first names within the team regardless of seniority.3 4

In common with the aviation industry, a number of healthcare organisations have also recommended using first names …

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. The department for affiliation 2 was updated to 'Cardiology Department'.

  • Contributors JH wrote the initial draft with guidance from MS. Subsequent revisions were by JH and MS.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.