Doing favors or giving gifts for patients: Unacceptable?

  1. 0
    Is this a generally unwise thing to do? Giving gifts to patients, whether it is small like a piece of candy, or large like sending flowers. Is this something not generally accepted in the health care positions, or any positions in any career? We all know about teachers accepting apples from students and that has never been generally frowned upon so why the difference when healthcare is involved?




    Or doing favors for patients such as a patient being admitted to a facility and has no way to contact their family because their phone is off and needs a phone card but is not allowed to leave the facility.
    They have the money but just need someone to run and get it.
    --Or they need to borrow your phone to make a quick call.
    --Or rather would like you to run and get a meal for them from a restaurant with their own money.
    It is not like giving a gift but rather doing a favor for a patient that is not necessarily in your line of care but is done out of friendship.

    Is this behavior is not acceptable, under which guidelines is it? Maybe only when you are on break or off duty? Or is this still too questionable?

    What are proper friendship limits in patient/practitioner relationships?

    Does it mater if gender differences play a role in it?

    If none of the above is acceptable, how much time should pass after a patient is dc'd before a friendship or personal relationship can be pursued?





    It seems in healthcare so many practitioners become hardhearted to individuals situations. Some have issues but don't really need medicine, but care and compassion from a friend. If a practitioner cannot be a friend, it is hard for there to be complete healing, especially if said patient has no support system outside. Sometimes the practitioners are all the patient has. And sometimes these patients are really distressed and cant do a thing about it because it is "outside of everyone's scope of practice".

    Where do the limits draw?
    Last edit by tariqblaze on Oct 13, '13
  2. 59 Comments so far...

  3. 2
    Good question I'm curious to hear responses.

    At my facility I bought a resident a candy bar one time as she was craving one. She was so happy. I have coworkers who do similar things.
    mrsmamabear2002 and hikernurse like this.
  4. 0
    Exactly. I know in many facilities that it is very common for workers to give gifts/do favors for patients especially those who are limited in mobility. It is almost commonplace but the rules will suggest otherwise with regards to some favors such as running outside errands. Even though it is the rules, in most places I know of it is not a strictly enforced rule but just a relaxed rule set up for legal purposes. As they say rules are made to be broken but I think some rules in the workforce are unnecessary and each case needs to be evaluated individually.
  5. 6
    I don't know what the rules are, but I can think of two cases when we did big things for a couple patients on my neurology floor, who were long term residents (1 month or more) due to insurance/finances/lack of support. A couple techs were recognized with a hospital award for throwing a birthday party for a patient, food and presents included. The same patient had a collection taken for baby items. Another patient had horrible taped together glasses and we collected money and took him to the eye clinic to get new ones. I feel good knowing we were able to help, regardless of the rules. I do often by little things, like candy and newspapers for patients.
  6. 15
    You mentioned that it would not be in the line of care, but in the line of friendship, and that's not what our relationship to patients is supposed to be. It's a professional relationship, not a friendly one. I believe that doing those would set up expectations and a relationship that goes from professional to unprofessional. It can also be a slippery slope into patients expecting more and more things that we should not do for them. It's best to remain professional and not do any of those things in my opinion. You should also check with your facility to see if these things would be expressly forbidden or frowned upon. I know that I would feel uncomfortable with these requests, and would never do them. Plus, if you did these things, what are they going to expect from the nurses following you? That would be unfair to put those expectations on them.
    llg, krisiepoo, Conqueror+, and 12 others like this.
  7. 2
    I agree with Lennonninja something's are crossing the lines. I have never pursued a friendship with any of my patients. I keep my relationship with them strictly professional. I've had patients with no family and sometimes I'll get them some chips or something like that from the cafeteria if they are allowed to have it and they are sick of hospital food. We had one patient who was suppose to get married but was in the hospital with a serious illness. We called around to some charities and had a wedding for them. Everyone who was off that day came to the wedding and we bought them gifts. But as far as outside of work I don't maintain contact with them. It can get complicated.

    Oh and I've had patients ask to use my phone. I locate theirs and if they need to make a long distance call I contact the operator or nursing office for assistance.

    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses.com
    hikernurse and poppycat like this.
  8. 5
    I do agree about not creating friendships outside of work. We have one, very motherly, older nurse who is facebook friends with several former patients. This has always struck me as crossing a line.
  9. 3
    Pre nursing student here. I have the perspective of the patient. I lost my daughter from incompetent cervix at 20 weeks gestation. I then got pregnant again and recieved a ceclage. At 20 weeks my cerclage started to fail. I was admitted to the hospital on strict bedrest. I lived in that bed for two months. My view was the other wing of the hospital and I did not blue sky that whole time. My nurses where awesome and yes some would bring me stuff. They would bring me supper or candy (until I became diabetic) , stuff like that. Then I delivered at 29 weeks and I got baby gifts from them. I loved my nurses. Along with my hubby they kept me from going crazy. I saw them as my nurses and my friends.
  10. 4
    Most facilites have policies regarding this. And most of the policies are clear on what is acceptable and what is not.

    It is important to maintain a professional boundary.
    llg, imintrouble, hikernurse, and 1 other like this.
  11. 0
    Quote from DoeRN
    I agree with Lennonninja something's are crossing the lines. I have never pursued a friendship with any of my patients. I keep my relationship with them strictly professional. I've had patients with no family and sometimes I'll get them some chips or something like that from the cafeteria if they are allowed to have it and they are sick of hospital food. We had one patient who was suppose to get married but was in the hospital with a serious illness. We called around to some charities and had a wedding for them. Everyone who was off that day came to the wedding and we bought them gifts. But as far as outside of work I don't maintain contact with them. It can get complicated.

    Oh and I've had patients ask to use my phone. I locate theirs and if they need to make a long distance call I contact the operator or nursing office for assistance.
    Thats where it gets tricky. What is the difference with giving them food from the cafeteria and food from your lunchbox, vending machine, or outside of the facility? If you are on break/off duty and you come back to assist them I see no difference. You bought gifts for the wedding for some patients, why not give gifts to others on a regular basis, if you wish of course.

    The same with lending a phone for a phone call especially if the operator tells you that patients are not allowed long distance phone calls. Running errands outside of the facility for them. I dont see where the line is drawn here using this one specific example you used.

    If it is allowed to bring in gifts from outside the facility for a couples wedding, what makes one occasion the exception over the second? Contact outside work doesnt have to be made but when it comes to gifts/favors/errands, where are the lines drawn?


Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors
Top