It’s all in a name – Patient Safety #medx

At the hospital yesterday, the nurse practitioner who saw me during my hospital stay back in December remembered that I am sometimes called Becky. When she called me Becky it felt so out of place. It didn’t fit. At the time, I could not articulate why.

All the medical assistants and nurses in the pre-op area, and even the doctors that I don’t know, call me Ms. Hogue. Actually, Scott commented that he needs to remember when I’m in hospital to answer to Scott Hogue (hopefully he won’t need to remember that again anytime soon). Those that have been my doctors for any significant amount of time call me Rebecca (or Ms. Hogue). They don’t call me Becky. Even those that read my blog don’t call me Becky.

I use the name Becky in informal settings – with close friends, at church, and on my breast cancer blog. It feels right in this setting. At school, it felt a little awkward when my PhD friends made the transition from Rebecca to Becky – in some cases friends have not made that transition. It isn’t a measure of closeness either – just that some call me Becky and others call be Rebecca.

My preference for Rebecca in formal settings is all about my initials. You see, I’m not BJH, I’m RJH. It is rather unfortunate that the shortened form of my name does not use the same initials. People from other cultures don’t always get that Becky and Rebecca are the same name. In academia, initials matter, because when you publish your articles are published using your first and sometimes middle initial. I am RJ Hogue. I like the initials RJH – they represent me. Funny story though, my parents named me Rebecca Joanne so they could call me “BJ”, but then never really did. I’ve been Becky-Jo, and some family members still call me Jo or Jo-Jo, but I haven’t really ever been a BJ.

On the car ride home from surgery last night I realized why it felt so wrong that a nurse would call me Becky – it is actually a patient safety issue. Nurses that don’t know me almost always call me Ms. Hogue. This isn’t just a formality, it is a way to ensure they are treating the correct patient! Every time they use my name, they are providing a check that they are giving the correct care to the correct person. When they read my wrist bands, they see Rebecca Hogue – they do not see Becky Hogue. The hospitals online records do not use my nick-name, they use my formal name. I’m sorry that I was not able to articulate my discomfort with being called Becky at the time, but now I understand where that comes from. Now I know that it is a safety issue, and that it is most appropriate that in a hospital setting I am Rebecca Hogue.

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