‘Tis the season of giving?

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=gift&iid=295533″ src=”0292/f536e6bd-dfa6-4a7e-a03c-9d094a52ca53.jpg?adImageId=7971122&imageId=295533″ width=”234″ height=”353″ /]As the calendar page flips to December 1st and thoughts turn to holiday gift buying, I have been reflecting upon gifts to medical providers. During my medical school surgery rotation, which happened to be during December, I still recall the countertops piled high with cookie trays, nut tins, fruit baskets and flowers. Now, this was an office of a very loved and respected surgeon in the community, a man not too far from retirement, with seemingly endless thankful patients. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything similar since then. However, likely all doctors will have stories about gifts they have received over the years. Primarily patients bring in handmade goods. I have received baked goods on many occasions, a hand-knit afghan, a dried flower wreath, candles and other similar items. It is always very touching and I’m honored when patients think of me and want to express appreciation. I recently was given a CD, which I’m pretty sure was from the patient’s own collection, weeks after he and I had a song lyric Q&A about some Sinatra. Of course, gifts are by no means expected and, truth be told, sometimes it is difficult to know how to respond. I did a little search to see if there are any formal guidelines about physicians accepting gifts from patients but I didn’t find anything on the Mass Med Society site about it. I did find this entry from the NYT Well blog, including the following quote:

As it turns out, the medical community is deep into a discussion about whether it’s appropriate to accept gifts from patients. Although small tokens like cookies or fruit baskets don’t usually pose a problem, physicians struggle with the ethics of accepting more costly or more personal gifts from patients. Doctors must maintain professional boundaries and don’t want patients to get the idea that gifts are necessary or that they might influence care. At the same time, doctors don’t want to insult or alienate patients by refusing gifts.

I’m curious: have you, as a patient, given a gift to a doctor or other medical provider? Do providers have any memorable gifts to share?


One response to “‘Tis the season of giving?

  1. Yes. As a patient, I’ve taken plates of homemade cookies to my doctor’s office (and been asked for recipes). Sometimes I take in fresh eggs (which it turns out the staff snatch up and the doctor didn’t even know about), and sometimes I offer produce from my garden (which they are free to decline). When my kids and I took a cake decorating class, my daughter mentioned the class to the lab tech, which led to us taking a cake to her and a separate cake for the whole staff to share.

    But I’d feel awkward giving a personal gift.

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