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Calling Patients What They Want to Be Called for More Inclusive Care

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Virginia Hospital Center use Epic to get patients’ names right

Calling someone by the right name seems simple, but it can be complicated in a healthcare setting. For example, Elizabeth might prefer to go by Beth, but her health insurance might require that the hospital put her full name on the bill. Someone who used to go by Jared, but is now named Jenna, might still be going through the legal process to have her name changed—and it could feel unwelcoming if her doctor calls her by the wrong name.

Using the name a patient goes by is an important part of providing inclusive care because it helps patients feel respectfully recognized by providers and comfortable in care settings. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Virginia Hospital Center use Epic to enable providers to use patients’ preferred names.

When patients arrive for clinic visits at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, relevant staff on the care team see the names the patients prefer to be called. Patients’ names appear consistently across both the system and printed documents, from the chart and the daily schedule to wristbands and labels.

As an added step to ensure respectful interaction with patients, nurses are trained to ask patients to spell their first names in addition to confirming their last names before giving medications. Legal names are still used for medications, so nurses might not otherwise know that a patient goes by a different name.

At Virginia Hospital Center, users see both the patient’s legal name and preferred name. Patients can update what they prefer to be called using MyChart, and any staff member is empowered to update the patient’s preferred name and gender identity. After Virginia Hospital Center made this process standard, more than 3,000 additional patients recorded their preferred names.

Epic community members can learn more about respectful use of patient names at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Virginia Hospital Center from their UGM slides and audio on the UserWeb, as well as overall strategies and available EHR tools in the Preferred Names and Pronouns Strategy Handbook.