SHOULD A PATIENT BE CALLED A PATIENT?

In May 2010, Stephen McMahon, CEO of the Dublin-based Iris hPatients Association (IPA) and Council Member at the Irish Council of Bioethics, started a discussion on the Linkedin Patients Page about whether a patient should be called a ‘patient’ or a ‘consumer’. He wrote:“Some institutions would prefer to popularise the term ‘consumer.’ My concern is that if we lose the title ‘patient’, then, in the public’s eye, a healthcare ‘consumer’ would not be much different to any other ‘consumer’ in the economy. The term ‘patient’, however, has an identity with which most in society can identify. Do you agree?” In the following five months, 25 people from different walks of life offered opinions to the discussion, commenting on the merits of the words ‘patient’ and ‘consumer’, and suggesting alternatives. This article analyses those discussions, and includes Stephen’s summary of the findings.