Nurses Don't Accept Gifts

  1. I have a question to nursing students and those recently out of school. Are you still taught that nurses must never accept a gift from a patient? That doctrine was cemented into my head when I was student during the 80s, and into the heads of most of the nurses I worked with. When questioned, teachers would just say it was unethical.

    In the years that I worked as a nurse, I accepted a number of gifts from patient families (I worked in the NICU). Many, because of their culture, would have been highly offended if I had refused it.

    So my question is, if this philosophy is still taught? Is it still considered a cardinal sin (sorry, I went to a Catholic university) if nurses accept a gift from a patient or family?:kiss
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    About roxannekkb

    Joined: Feb '03; Posts: 1,099; Likes: 5
    former NICU nurse, now a medical/health journalist


  3. by   HollieRN
    We were taught that it is never expected that you'll receive a gift ... But sometimes, in special circumstances, you might. We were told to tell them that it wasn't expected, and to thank them for their thoughtfulness.

    In the few months i was doing clinical on a med surg floor, there was always some sort of sweet or another (chocolates, donuts, candy ...) behind the nursing station for the nurses and med staff to share. I thought it was a nice gesture Totally unnecessary, but nice ... And i assume they feel nice doing something like that.
  4. by   gwenith
    Don't give me a gift just leave chocolate on nurses desk on the way out!

    I do know of a case where the ward was given a lottery ticket which won! Unfortunately the distribution of the money was challenged in court by a casual employee RN who had worked on the ward once during that time and had not looked after the patient. Left a sour taste in EVRYONE's mouth.
  5. by   Flynurse
    I was taught in school that we are not allowed to take any form of gift from a patient. With that in mind I do not accept money at all. I tend to eat only a bite of food a family brings in for the nursing staff. And I don't accept any gifts.

    My own philosophy is this: I don't know what any individual's income may be, so, to avoid any conflict in my own mind I don't accept gifts. Unless, like you said it is a small gift and because of the person's culture.

    I once had a patient's husband try to slip me a fifty dollar bill. I had only taken care of the lady that day for a few hours. I told him that I couldn't accept the gift, but if he would like to send a card or something to the unit that would be fine. He continued to insist, but I stood my by my values. He did send a card and flowers or something.
    Here's where it gets sticky, later that day I came home and told my fiance and his grandfather what had happened. They both gave me the third degree. Why didn't you take the money??? You should have taken it. Nobody had to know! What's wrond with you??? I know who I am and I told them about my values and morals...I wouldn't have been able to live with myself had I accepted the money.

    I have to confess though...I did receive money once, but unbeknownst to me. It was Christmass time and my last week at a facility. A resident's wife gave everyone on the unit a card. When I opened the card at Christmas, after I had left the job, there was a five dollar bill in it. I couldn't return the money...I live states away now! and I don't remember the resident's last name.

    Take care and accept only chocolate for the whole staff!

  6. by   PowerPuffGirl
    Hmmm... I know that when I was born, in 1976, it was common practice for the moms to give the student nurses assigned to them a small gift- usually a bracelet charm or a pendant, or a pair of earrings (the student nurses were assigned to an expectant mom a few weeks before delivery, so there was somewhat of a working relationship there). The school didn't discourage this at all.
  7. by   night owl
    Funny this should come up. Just this morning I was talking to one of our NAs and he was telling me that a resident's wife handed him a Christmas card in an envelope about two years ago. He put it in his jacket pocket and never opened it until a couple of days later. In it he said, were five one hundred dollar bills. That's some gift! I would have never accepted it. Another time I kept finding money in my jacket pocket. A 10 dollar bill one day, the next day there was a 20. I never carry money in my pockets because I'm in and out of them so many times I'd wind up losing it. So I kept a closer watch of the residents when I had to get close to them for anything and sure enough, I found the source. This nice little old man tried to slip me another 20 and I caught him this time. Told him it was so sweet of him for thinking of me everyday like that, but I couldn't accept this money and gave him back the $30 he slipped in my pockets previously. He was alittle upset and really wanted me to have it, but he understood. I'm already getting paid to do the job I love and to accept extra from the residents is really not ethical to me, but I'm sure others have.
  8. by   cwazycwissyRN
    When I worked in rual America, I recieved balloons and flowers at home. When I had my last child 11 years ago, I awoke to a beautiful bouquet of roses and home made baby booties, from a former patient. As one stated before, certainly no one needed to do this for me..............but I will melted my heart and made me feel like a queen for the day, each time.
  9. by   LaVorneRN
    This is interesting because hospitals and some nursing programs have a policy in relation to accepting gifts. I have accepted gifts (mugs, crocheted kitchen towel, angel pin, a dollar). The dollar was a cute situation. I escorted a little 80yrold out to her grandson's car for discharge. She hugged me and then squeezed my hands while thanking me. When I looked down she slipped me a dollar bill that was as old as she was. It was so cute and touching I didn't have the heart to give it back. She really felt she was doing something and it felt like such a special gesture. It obviously meant alot to her to do this. Certain things were acceptable (food, gifts to the unit) as long as the charge nurse was aware. As a student accepting gifts was discouraged and money was definately not allowed. The point is that there are policies in place for this type of situation. Whatever facility you do your clinicals you should refer to their P&P manual.
  10. by   zambezi
    I was also taught in nursing school that we were not to accept gifts. One night I took care of a patient that was admitted near midnight, from er, to cath lab, where he had an anaphylactic rxn to the dye, i took care of him in ccu after the fact. The patient was transferred out the next day. Later that night i received a phone call from a nurse on the stepdown unit, she said that she had a patient that wanted me to come down and see him and his wife. On my break I went down there and he and his wife had bought me this cute little stuffed kitten and a tiny snowman angel with my name on it. Even though the first thing that popped in my mind was "no gifts" how do you say no to something they hand picked out? They would have been offended had i said no. Now the kitty sits on my bed, the angel hangs on my christmas tree and each time i see them i remember the patient and that i might have made a small difference in someones of the best benefits that nursing offers...
  11. by   Mimi2RN
    I have a crotcheted snow flake Christmas ornament made by a cancer patient. I took care of her frequently, she passed away not long after that Christmas. Whenever I take it out, I think of her............Special gifts are from special people.

    But pass the chocolates, too!
  12. by   Rozhinitsy
    It was always drummed in to me not to accept personal gifts from whoever you were looking after. When I was about 20 I worked in a residential home for the elderly. I decided to leave and one of the residents crochet this beautiful swan for me, of course I couldn't accept it, even though I had asked permission from my boss, who also said no. This resident was really upset. A couple of days later, I was at home and a couple of work colleagues popped in and gave me the swan, which I've still got.

    During my nurse training, I did an escort duty for a patient of ours, who had to go to another hospital for radiotherapy. She was so poorly and I never left her side for the seven or eight hours she was there. On returning to our ward, thought nothing of it. A week later, she called me into her room (she was in a side room) and gave me an envelope, in which held a card and five pounds. Straight away I told her I couldn't accept the money, and she refused to have it back, so the policy of the hospital is that it goes into the ward fund, which is fine. The card was something special though. As a nurse, I don't expect thanks as such, I do my job because I enjoy doing it. The next day the patient died!
  13. by   Dplear
    I had a home health agency one time return a gift that was meant for me but was delivered to the agency. It was a diamond encrusted Rolex Presidential model. It was given to me by a Saudi Prince that I had done private duty for in a VIP room at Methodist Hospital here in Houston. I found out about it from the secretary at the office. The manager told the saudi that it was against my morals to accept gifts......not only was he wrong but that also insulted the Saudi Prince. I told that manager to NEVER infer what my morals or ethics were and to take his agency and shove it where the sun did not shine. I would have taken that watch in a Second without hesitation.


    P.S. I also have 2 hand knitted baby blankets that were made by a SNF pt for my youngest. My wife was pregnant at the time I took care of her. The lady gave them to the manager of the unit for me and she mailed them to my house.....
  14. by   betts
    If only we could w/o feeling ashamed!
    I cared for an elderly resident that was also a retired professor and extremely wealthy. She had decided upon her release to go on a cruise to the Greek Isles and asked if I would go as her private nurse with all expenses paid,$5000.00 spending money, clothing allowance,etc...
    My husband said DO IT! GO! Have Fun! At which point I thought him trying to be rid of me(not the case)but alas.....Integrity prevailed.