awkward situation with a patient and money

  1. I am a new graduate nurse who has been on the floor for a little over 2 months. I had a situation last week with a patient who was being discharged. She wanted a hug when she was getting ready to leave, and when I leaned out from hugging her she tucked a $20 bill in my shirt pocket. She insisted I take it because she and her daughter said I took the best care of her out of everyone that she'd run across since she'd been there. I took it out of my pocket and told her I couldn't accept it because it was my job to be there and to take good care of her but she and her daughter were insistent that I needed to accept it and buy my family a pie for thanksgiving. I tried repeatedly to explain to them that I am paid already to be there and that I really couldn't accept the money, but they would hear none of it.

    I feel like its unethical to accept extra money from a patient like that, as well as a risk in case they come back and say you stole it. How would you more experienced nurses handle that situation? I was at a loss at what to do.
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    About beavetron

    Joined: Sep '10; Posts: 13; Likes: 1
    Telemetry; from US


  3. by   kimmie4476
    It's a tricky situation that has happened where I work a couple of times..the first time it was 20 dollars, and the receiving nurse gave it to our manager to buy everyone on the floor pizza one day...the second time, a family gave a couple of nurses 100. gift cards (they were in a card given to the DON), and a couple of them bought food for the food drive with them. Some people just won't take no for an answer and just want to tip for good service even though you tell them over and over that it's part of our job. I agree that it is unethical to accept money from a pt., but now that it's over with, take the money and do something good with it and by all means, let your manager know what happened!
  4. by   SnowShoeRN
    I've worked at hospitals that have specifically stated that we are not to accept money from patients and to do so could result in ethical problems and subsequent reviews. Though I know this isn't the case at all hospitals.

    I've also had patients try to do the same to me and I've been able to gracefully thank them for their generosity but also say, "I'm sorry, not only would I feel uncomfortable, but we're simply not allowed to accept money from our patients and their families." I've also suggested that if they want to do something to show their appreciation they write a thank-you note to management naming the staff they wish to specifically praise, make a small donation to the unit, bring in snacks for the staff, etc. And I've seen families do all of the above.

    I've always found that if I stand my ground pleasantly and firmly enough they drop the matter. It isn't like anyone forces us, against our will, to take their money. Unless, I suppose, they manged to hide it somehow on my person. Which I've never had happen.

    But, yes. I don't know what the policies are at your facility, but I would certainly let your manager know. Goodluck.
  5. by   llg
    Simply tell them that is "against the rules" and that you could lose your job if you accepted it. Be firm, but polite. If they sneak it to you so they don't find out about it until after you are gone, turn it over to your supervisor and let her decide how to handle it. Accepting it could come back to haunt you if a family members reports that you took the money.
  6. by   franciscangypsy
    I had this happen when I was a CNA and about to leave for nursing school. I had worked with this lady for at least a year and she knew I was leaving for college for the first time. When I finished helping her, she gave me some money (I don't remember how much). Even at 18, I knew I wasn't supposed to accept money from pts and tried repeatedly to give it back.

    Finally, it looked like I would just make the lady cry if kept insisting, so I left with it, thanking her. As soon as I got back to the nurses' station, I snagged my DON and told her what happened and gave her the money. She found a way to sneak it back to the pt so her feelings wouldn't be hurt.

    Thankfully, I've never had to deal with that again.

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