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Giving money to a patient's family

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by saudades, Aug 6, 2015.

  1. saudades

    2+ Year Member

    Feb 16, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Resident [Any Field]
    A clinic patient of mine died about a week ago. I don't have much info yet but I suspect it was SUID or a co-bedding incident. I called the mother and left a message expressing condolences, etc and told her to let us at the office know if there is anything we could do. (I meant things along the line of emotional support, giving her the patient's records, answering questions, etc.) The other day, my nurse told me that the mother called asking for donations for the funeral. Now, I'd have no problem personally with something like this, but I was wondering about it from an ethical standpoint as a professional. A senior resident told me it wasn't even appropriate for the nurse to tell me this, and an attending said maybe we could collect donations as an office. Hypothetically, if I (or another doctor) were to donate money personally, would this lead down a slippery slope? (Ie, no different than giving money to patients who needed bus fare/money for food or meds, etc.) Or would this be considered an exceptional circumstance? What would you do?
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  3. j4pac

    j4pac PM&R resident
    10+ Year Member

    Aug 22, 2005
    Likes Received:
    I don't see a problem with an anonymous donation for a funeral. I would do anything more than that. In regards to bus fare/food/meds...AHHHH HELLLL NAAAHHHH!
  4. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Attending Physician
    You really should be going through risk management with respect to any issues involving patient bad outcomes. How you express your condolences, make offers to help, give donations, etc can potentially have legal significance in subsequent litigation/settlements and so in general the risk people ought to be brought into the loop before you "offer" anything beyond an "I'm sorry for your loss". There's a "right" way to do this and your organization likely has people actually trained for handling these issues.
    candbgirl, exi, brotherman and 3 others like this.

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