Accepting gifts from patients?

Nurses General Nursing

Published

I just started my CNA course, and the particular chapter I'm reading at the moment is discussing ethical behavior and boundary violations. One of the items stressed is receiving gifts from patients, that you are not allowed to do so. (And I see the logic in that, of course)

I'm just curious about that, because I've read a few books with short stories written by nurses about their job, and several times I read about a nurse receiving gifts (like flowers, candy, or one nurse even talked about a heart-shaped necklace that she wore all the time that she got from a patient).

I know that a lot of times, what the textbook says is different from how things actually are. Is this one of the things that nurses and staff members follow strictly?

raindrops1234

82 Posts

Depends. A lot of patients/family will send thank you cards. When I worked in LTC families would bring candy/doughnuts for the staff. But a lot of organizations have strict policies about receiving gifts.

kp2016

488 Posts

You need to look at the policy for the specific hospital / unit that you are working in. I have never worked anywhere that didn't have a very clear written policy.

In general at most places personal thank you notes are allowed. Token gifts like flowers, chocolates, cookies and donuts etc even if given to you personally should be shared with the entire shift, out of respect for the fact that everyone (house keeping, clerical etc) contributed to good patient care even if the patient wasn't aware of their contribution.

Accepting cash gifts or gift cards is often strictly forbiden. Many hospitals have charitable organizations that these gifts are encouraged to be directed towards.

I have had one job that had a much more relaxed policy, and it was also written in very clear language it the policy and procedure book. Ignoring the written policy would be a very bad idea.

Julius Seizure

1 Article; 2,282 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

The general policy in the places that I have worked is that gifts over a certain amount must be refused, or turned into the hospital/shared with the entire staff. The limit was something like $5-10. It makes things awkward when a family goes out of their way or has already spent money to give you a gift and you basically are told that you have to turn them down. I've had families approach me with gifts like little angel figurines, gift cards, etc - things that cant really be "shared" with the entire staff.

matcha-cat

136 Posts

The general policy in the places that I have worked is that gifts over a certain amount must be refused, or turned into the hospital/shared with the entire staff. The limit was something like $5-10. It makes things awkward when a family goes out of their way or has already spent money to give you a gift and you basically are told that you have to turn them down. I've had families approach me with gifts like little angel figurines, gift cards, etc - things that cant really be "shared" with the entire staff.

Did you go ahead and turn them down? That does seem difficult to do. I understand sharing something with the staff if it can be shared, but it seems to strange to turn down a gift for one person. I understand all staff had a role in making sure that the patient was cared for, but sometimes (from what I've heard, of course) an individual nurse can really touch a patient or his/her family through attitude and inspiration. What are your thoughts on that?

KatieMI, BSN, MSN, RN

1 Article; 2,675 Posts

Specializes in ICU, LTACH, Internal Medicine.

Where I am, small things like thank you cards, candy, homemade sweets, little Christmas ornaments, etc. are allowed. I got a book one time and had to go to management, but there was no problems.

If in doubt, just politely tell that you are not allowed to take anything without your manager's permission, and leave it at that. People are used to different jobs having all sorts of crazy policies and so feel fine most of the time.

RNNPICU, BSN, RN

1,265 Posts

Specializes in PICU.

I have had a families give me a gift in the past, and it has been occasions where it would be more insulting to refuse. Each situation warrant an evaluation. One time I got a massive box of chocolates and I definitely shared that with everyone in the breakroom, one time a family gave me a cute flower arrangement and a nice card, another occasion it was a nice bag-type thing with lotion. Each of the situations was unique and a refusal would have not been a possibility.

If a family says something general such as oh I would love to do something, you could direct them to a manager, or SW or someone who could talk to the family more about what they would like to do

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