How to Address a Physician Who Lost His License?
I am involved in a case where the person on the other side is a physician who lost his license, with good reason, in every state in the US where he ever held one. Should this person still be addressed and referred to as Dr. Last Name? (i.e. Dr. Smith)
Various judges and attorneys have weighed in on this subject. A definitive answer from you would be much appreciated.
—-—-—-– S.B. in Chico
Dear S.B., How to Address an Osteopath
I don’t have a definitive answer for you, but several ideas come to mind. I sense there is a desire to address him as ‘Mr. (name)’ to reduce him from being addressed as ‘Dr. (name)’.
—-#1) By custom, U.S. elected officials are addressed as ‘the Honorable (Full Name)’, unless they are removed from office or leave in disgrace. There is no protocol police force out there to enforce it, but that’s the custom. So, if you think of it that way address as ‘Dr.’ would have to go away.
—-#2) There is no single ‘official physician’s organization’ with power over ALL the doctors in the same way a Roman Catholic Bishop – holding a high hierarchical office – has power over all the lower ranked clerics. In the case of a defrocked priest, since he is ‘on the payroll’, someone can take his rank away. But, being a physician is not exactly part of this kind of hierarchy.
—-#3) The honorific ‘Dr.’ is not issued by the local medical society. They issue licenses to practice in a certain jurisdiction. Retired physicians who no longer maintain their license are still addressed as ‘Dr. (name)’. So, addressing as ‘Dr.’ is not limited to having a current license.
—-#4) Being a ‘Dr.’ is a personal rank: one is a ‘Dr.’, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is separate from having a particular job, like chief of staff at a hospital or chairman of the department of surgery. Those are offices one might be forced out of, but one remains a Dr.
—-#5) Being a doctor, ambassador or military officer all come with a rank. One is addressed by rank in both professional and social situations. E.g., a physician is addressed Dr. (name) while seeing patients (present as a licensed medical professional) at the hospital. On weekends, when he is washing his car in his driveway (not present as a doctor) he’s ALSO addressed as ‘Dr. (name)’.
– Robert Hickey How to Address a Chiropractor How to Address an Optometrist How to Address an Osteopath