I had a patient leave me a gift today, which appeared to be a box of cologne. I apologetically returned it.
I didn’t remember the patient. Turns out that it was somebody who had come to me with a concern of having a vascular problem. On further exam, he did not have any vascular problem. So given that it was not a long consultation and the person did not have insurance, we didn’t charge him.
Two years later, with his symptoms having resolved, he leaves the gift….simply because I listened to him about his problem with a sympathetic ear.
In principle, I don’t accept patient gifts from patients….it feels that you owe the person something….and you can’t say no to them. It takes the objectivity out of the treatment.
But then, I had a patient who brought his father with a limb threatening condition. He too did not have insurance. However, this person goes ahead and registers himself instead. After a long consultation in which we decided on several ways that he could save the leg and do it at the least possible cost, the switch in registration becomes apparent.
Of course, this is not alright. How can I document the findings of the father under the name of the son!!!
So they did have to pay….but it left an unhappy tinge….in me….
We try so hard to help patients, even if we have to have the patient go elsewhere ….wherever it is in the best interest of the patient..but such scheming which can get us into trouble….makes it difficult to do good work…do we go to restaurants and not pay for food, how about to the mall and not pay for clothes…and yet we do this for the most important thing in our life…..our life…