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My original question is at the end of this message, here is a summary of the responses.

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The AMA Code of Ethics section on Gifts from Patients:
http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/opinion10017.page
(My requestor had searched the AMA site, but had not found this. I did not look myself - a step I would normally have taken)

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Should Physicians Accept Gifts From Patients? 
Laurie J. Lyckholm 
JAMA. 1998;280(22):1944-1946. 
http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/280/22/1944.extract

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A Canadian response thought that Canadian physicians cannot accept any gift, no matter how small

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I'm guessing you're not talking about a retainer or "concierge"
physician but I'm reminded of this opinion piece I saw a couple of weeks ago:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22041952
The ethical issues would be similar I think.

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Some suggested that if this were a hospital physician (not in our case), any gift might better be made to the foundation

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Many of you suggested that a donation to a local non-profit in the physician's name would be honoring to the physician, helpful to the local non-profit, and beneficial to the person's desire to do something.

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In the final discussion with my requestor, I shared your comments (with all identifiers removed), and even added the option of saying something like: Thank you for the kind offer, but I am capably remunerated for my services.

Whatever had already been found from our state medical society had also been passed along, I do not know what that information was.

We also recommended checking if the physician's practice had any policies on accepting financial gifts for services rendered. 

Clearly there was a concern about impropriety that resulted in the question being asked, and we wanted to provide the physician with a range of possible responses as well as any known background on the issue.

Thanks to all who responded.

Steve Rauch | Medical Librarian
Community Hospital | Grand Junction CO
[log in to unmask] | 970-256-6209 

-----Original Message-----
From: Medical Libraries Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Steve Rauch
Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 13:43
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Ethics Question: Physicians accepting bonuses from their patients

This question has trickled down to me, and I offered to send it out on MEDLIB-L

A physician in the community (not employed by the hospital) has been approached by a patient who is so pleased with the care she received that she wants to give the patient a bonus. As far as we know, there are no strings attached, simply appreciation for the care. The physician contacted our compliance officer to make sure this was prohibited by any rules or regulations. Stark is not in play on this question, and we have not yet found anything from the state medical society.

Are any of you aware of cases where a patient wanted to reward a private physician? Was it permitted?

Thank you,

Steve Rauch, Medical Librarian  
Community Hospital 
Grand Junction, CO  81501