Docs with ink? Tatts okay by us, say patients

'My 73-year-old patient said she liked my tattoo'

Patients don't see a difference in competence, professionalism or trustworthiness when doctors sport tattoos or piercings, a small US study suggests.

Perceptions have likely changed over time as societal norms regarding tattoos and piercings have changed, too, the researchers write in Emergency Medicine Journal.

"Tattoos are more prevalent now than they were 10 years ago, professionals included," said co-author Dr Holly Stankewicz of St Luke's University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

"The stigmas are falling away, and we think that's a good thing. Patients know it doesn't affect how professional or qualified you are."

Dr Stankewicz and colleagues surveyed patients in a community trauma centre in a large urban area of Pennsylvania.

Seven doctors — four men and three women — wore standard navy scrubs during the study and rotated between four conditions: