Author Topic: Gift Question for Medical Professionals  (Read 4569 times)

Catbert

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Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« on: October 19, 2014, 02:09:09 PM »
Tomorrow DH finishes his 8th and final round of chemo*.  I plan to take to the chemo suite nurses a pound of See's candy, 8 jars of varied preserves and salsas and a note thanking the chemo nurses for taking wonderful care of my husband.  I'll also give a jar of preserves to a receptionist who has been particularly helpful/cheerful.

What, if anything, can I appropriately do for his oncologist when we see him next?  Candy, preserves or a gift card to Starbucks seems inappropriate (insulting?) to give an MD.  Just a personal note/letter?  Or, what?   

*Stage 4 Defuse Large B Cell Lymphoma for inquiring minds who want to know. 

Layla

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2014, 02:16:55 PM »
My Dad has the same cancer and has just done his fifth cycle of chemo. A personal card or note and a jar of preserves would be my suggestion. If the preserves don't seem right to you then a bottle of wine is another idea.

Prepube

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2014, 03:24:20 PM »
Doctors/helping professionals don't need much in the way of appreciation of that type, and sometimes ethics prevents them from accepting more than a small gift or token of appreciation.  A heartfelt thank you note is enough, but if you feel the need to do more, then the preserves would be plenty, and very appreciated.   

Abe

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2014, 04:18:58 PM »
I'd recommend a card with a note. We like to keep them in our desks to look at when work gets stressful. Good luck to your husband and family.

Grateful Stache

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2014, 06:45:25 PM »
Sending you and your family well-wishes, Mary.

Primm

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2014, 06:49:35 PM »
For the oncologist, why do the gifts you mentioned seem insulting? It's actually unethical (and against most hospital policies) for him to accept anything of real "value", but a jar of preserves or a coffee card / bottle of wine is within the acceptable limits. A nice card with a note will be appreciated.

Best wishes to your husband, I hope everything continues to go well.

bleumanchu

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2014, 07:16:56 PM »
Just echoing the above. As a physician, thank you notes are actually something I very much appreciate. It's not something I need or expect, but when I receive them, they mean a lot. Preserves or candy would be just fine as well. Anything more than that would be uncomfortable and, as mentioned above, could raise ethical concerns.

I wish you and your husband well.
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tofuchampion

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2014, 10:02:42 PM »
A card and small gift would be fine.

If you wanted to do something "bigger," you could make a donation to the hospital in the doc's/team's honor.  A patient & family did that for my floor recently - I think it was a donation to the employee benefit fund, and they designated it in honor of our department. 

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mlipps

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2014, 10:47:10 PM »
There was a thread like this on Bogleheads a while back. That forum is full of MD's and the consensus was that a handwritten note is preferred much more than any other option.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2014, 07:12:53 AM »
Same with College/University professors.  Nothing of monetary value.  But hand-written thank-you notes from students?  Priceless.

I was nominated for a service award at my University, shortly after they opened it up to faculty (before it was only staff).  The nominee was anonymous, and from that and the actual entry, I have to assume it was a student who nominated me.  Didn't win my category, it went to support staff, but the very fact that I was nominated was what mattered.  My friends on the faculty were so congratulatory, because this was very rare and special.
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GetItRight

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2014, 09:06:00 AM »
I'm curious as to why some people here (both docs and non-docs) seem to think it is unethical to give anything beyond a minor token gift as thank you for successful medical treatment. I mean honestly, you just paid this guy (or team of several people) tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatment with no guarantee of success as defined by you still being alive, and it's unethical to give them a higher value gift than candy or coffee if they do a good job and you are still alive? That seems absurd to me. Also, the inflated price of these services also seem absurd to me, so a thank you note would be my route to thanks after successful treatment of a major health issue.

partgypsy

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2014, 10:36:37 AM »
Well, it is considered a conflict of interest and can create the "appearance" of  unequal treatment or preference. I work for the government, and we are not allowed to receive a gift of more than $20. We cannot give a gift to a fellow employee that is more than $10, unless they are a personal friend outside of work.
I agree, a token food gift and a letter are the nicest gifts, or a donation to the facility, etc.

Catbert

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2014, 12:54:32 PM »
Well the basket of preserves and See's candy went over well in the chemo suite this morning.  One of the RNs said they were pinning the note on the break room bulletin board.

We won't see the oncologist until mid-December so I'll have time to work on a letter to him.  Since everyone thinks a handmade gift would be fine, I'll add a jar of holiday themed preserves (e.g., cranberry pear jam). 

Thanks for the advice and good wishes.

   

sheepstache

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2014, 01:38:20 PM »
I'm curious as to why some people here (both docs and non-docs) seem to think it is unethical to give anything beyond a minor token gift as thank you for successful medical treatment. I mean honestly, you just paid this guy (or team of several people) tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatment with no guarantee of success as defined by you still being alive, and it's unethical to give them a higher value gift than candy or coffee if they do a good job and you are still alive? That seems absurd to me. Also, the inflated price of these services also seem absurd to me, so a thank you note would be my route to thanks after successful treatment of a major health issue.

But everybody else (or some combination of their insurance) paid the same amount. If one person's gift to the doc is a bentley, it raises questions about whether they got preferential treatment to the detriment of his/her other patients or if they got bumped up the transplant list, etc.

GetItRight

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2014, 04:25:48 PM »
I don't see anything unethical with treating the highest paying (or otherwise best/good/repeat/etc.) customer with preference, that's kind of how the free market works. I don't think that is particularly relevant for an unexpected gift after successful treatment though. That would seem more like a discretionary bonus paid based on performance.

If anything, given doctors are generally quite well paid and those in medicine here have mentioned a nice thank you letter brings them more joy and satisfaction, the thank you letter would be at more danger of getting someone preferential treatment and should be outlawed if the goal is to eliminate any appearance or perception that preferential treatment may occur. Of course I think this is all insane and the only truly ethical thing is to eliminate these laws on gifts.

Prepube

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2014, 04:35:34 PM »
I'm curious as to why some people here (both docs and non-docs) seem to think it is unethical to give anything beyond a minor token gift as thank you for successful medical treatment. I mean honestly, you just paid this guy (or team of several people) tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatment with no guarantee of success as defined by you still being alive, and it's unethical to give them a higher value gift than candy or coffee if they do a good job and you are still alive? That seems absurd to me. Also, the inflated price of these services also seem absurd to me, so a thank you note would be my route to thanks after successful treatment of a major health issue.

Its not unethical to GIVE a gift.  It is unethical to ACCEPT a gift.  It can be awkward for the docs if you give a gift they shouldn't accept, and they really need nothing more than an appreciative note anyway.  I have thank you notes from my patients hanging on my bulletin board to remind me of why I do what I do-- any present or gift I get (without the opportunity to decline it) is usually given away to the next person who enters my office.  The wine I usually give to our front desk people.

cacaoheart

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2014, 04:45:48 PM »
We're clearly told we can't personally accept anything of monetary value. A gift card would be a no-no. Hand written notes get pinned in the break room for months. Donuts/chocolates are well received in the break room.

Donations to the hospital itself are very welcome and at my hospital people get little golden acorns added to their ID badge for each time a patient or their family has donated to the hospital as a result of that employee. Even without a financial donation being involved, I get positive notes in my annual review when patients specifically mention me as a welcome part of their stay.

neophyte

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2014, 04:58:58 PM »
Disclaimer: doctor's kid; not a doctor

It's the thought that counts.  Really.  Everyone in my dad's office is always excited to get homemade baked goods, preserves, or (once) jerky. Especially us kids when we were little! Notes are lovely. But anything more than that would just be awkward. It puts them in the position of either accepting something they feel they shouldn't accept, or hurting someone's feelings by turning down the gift. 

sheepstache

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2014, 05:34:56 PM »
I don't see anything unethical with treating the highest paying (or otherwise best/good/repeat/etc.) customer with preference, that's kind of how the free market works. I don't think that is particularly relevant for an unexpected gift after successful treatment though. That would seem more like a discretionary bonus paid based on performance.

Maybe this is an American thing. Doctors are treated a bit more like judges or teaches. They're supposed to be impartial. If you're a better doctor, you get to charge higher fees / work for a hospital that pays a higher salary, that's how the market rewards you. But the sacred/oath-taking aspect of the profession means that you're supposed to be doing your best for everyone. You don't do a really really good job on a guy's surgery because he's rich and then decide to leave your scalpel inside some dude because he paid less.

Primm

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2014, 06:39:26 PM »
I don't see anything unethical with treating the highest paying (or otherwise best/good/repeat/etc.) customer with preference, that's kind of how the free market works. I don't think that is particularly relevant for an unexpected gift after successful treatment though. That would seem more like a discretionary bonus paid based on performance.

Maybe this is an American thing. Doctors are treated a bit more like judges or teaches. They're supposed to be impartial. If you're a better doctor, you get to charge higher fees / work for a hospital that pays a higher salary, that's how the market rewards you. But the sacred/oath-taking aspect of the profession means that you're supposed to be doing your best for everyone. You don't do a really really good job on a guy's surgery because he's rich and then decide to leave your scalpel inside some dude because he paid less.

Health professionals sign a code of ethics as part of their registration process. If you do anything that conflicts with this you can be deregistered. It's not a personal thing per se, it means that the person could lose their right to practice.

There is definitely the moral/ethical thing that sheepstache spoke about, but it's more legally defined than that. Lose your registration, lose your job, never work in the industry again. Every year when you re-register you tick a box that essentially says "Nothing I have done conflicts with the code of practice of my industry". Pretty cut and dried.

3Owls

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2014, 07:01:52 PM »
My husband is a physician.  A personal note or card is always nice.  Don't feel you must do anymore.  He/She will appreciate the gratitude and good health. 

Aprés-ski

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2014, 05:25:36 PM »
The best gift you can give the nursing staff would be a hand written note.  Seriously, most oncology units display them in the break room. There is nothing better than seeing somebody you cared for get through chemo.

Distant seconds would be chocolate or coffee though ;)

tofuchampion

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2014, 11:09:25 PM »
The best gift you can give the nursing staff would be a hand written note.  Seriously, most oncology units display them in the break room. There is nothing better than seeing somebody you cared for get through chemo.

Distant seconds would be chocolate or coffee though ;)

Actually, note and chocolate both would be best.  ;)
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Penny Lane

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2014, 06:21:53 AM »
I will chime in advising the note, too; I have a big box of them I can't discard.  One guy learned to crochet during his recovery, and did some potholders for me-- very sweet but unnecessary. 

Catbert

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Re: Gift Question for Medical Professionals
« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2014, 11:54:21 AM »
I went with chocolate, homemade preserves and a handwritten note for the chemo suite nurses.  Everyone seems pleased.  I was told the note went in the break room and I overheard several discussions on who wanted which variety of preserves.