Monday, September 2, 2013

medical monday : a debate

Sorry for my long absence on here... I have been gently "fussed" at for the past few days from people back here in KY who have been looking for a new post everyday. Haven't you all noticed yet that I don't write much when I am away?  I'm sort of busy with baby showers, family time, and soaking up this little slice of heaven:

But I did want to be sure to participate in today's Medical Monday link-up!  So I sit here on my parent's deck and recount a subject I thought about in the middle of the night last week, to see what you all think about it.

I also want to put out the disclaimer that Kyle and I have not discussed this at all, he will be reading my thoughts about it for the first time just like any of you. He has not mentioned anything near this is purely my own thoughts from a sleepless night.

Backstory: Kyle just finished up his Peds rotation, and the whole month he has been hoping that a sweet 3 year old girl would too. Not just because she was sweet, but because he wanted so badly to send her home before her birthday.  He got attached.  He got a bit down early last week because it looked like it wouldn't happen, but now thinks she may get to go home on her birthday exactly.

Which got me thinking at about 2 am one night, what is the appropriateness of a doctor giving a patient (I was really only thinking about Peds and will continue this post only thinking about Peds) a present? I do feel like it is a completely bad idea for a new resident to do something like that... But what about his superiors, or he himself in a few years? Would it be wrong to give a 3 year old little girl who is nervous of doctors and has been stuck in the hospital for the past month, a little birthday present? Nothing extravagant... Even if the doctor kept several little things to slip his special cases on occasion... A hot wheels car or a simple little beaded bracelet?

There is a lot of educational material/guidelines on the web about doctors accepting gifts from patients.. But I couldn't find anything about the reverse situation.  Which is why I am asking you... Wives of residents, doctors yourselves, fellow medical life people of some sort... What do you think?

Is it inappropriate for a doctor to try to cheer up a long term patient with a little token of acknowledgment?  Slip a kid a little something special just to say "I hate that you have to be here too but maybe this will make you smile today." Because we know our doctor husbands/wives/friends/etc. are not drones.  Sometimes they may seem that way because they are tired and just want to take care of the patient that they will never see again as quickly as possible.  But a lot of times there are repeat customers that they become attached to.  That they "bring home" frequently. And sometimes it isn't enough to just want to make them better... Sometimes you just want to make a little girl smile.


  1. I have no idea what the right answer is, but I've wondered this too! But my concern would be, what happens when one well meaning parent mentions how great it was that the doc gave her son/daughter a gift and then another parent is upset/hurt that their child wasn't "special" enough to warrant a gift? Maybe if you just made it a rule that you gave a little gift to any child who had to be in the hospital on his/her birthday? Very curious to see what others have to say!

  2. Interesting thought. I don't see it as a problem, especially if it is a small token. Doctors are people too and they get attached to certain patients for a number of reasons. What harm could there be in giving a child a small present. I don't follow the premise that if you do it for one you have to do it for everyone. Many pediatric hospitals already do something like that for every patient, whether it is a blanket for stuffed animal and stickers. Maybe the best approach would be to express to the patients family that you would like to give a small gift to the child and see if they are open to that. Maybe some people would feel weird about a grown man giving a gift to their child. Who knows! Thanks for linking up with Medical Mondays!

  3. I would say no for much of the same reasons Jessica mentions above. In this age of internet doctor rating websites, all it would take is for one disgruntled parent who thought their child was treated unfairly to write a poor review/ranking. I think it's awful that we have to even think of such things, but after all, this is our livelihood. I'm telling you, I've seen the stupidest interactions between doc/patient end up spurring a bad review on the internet.
    If he wants to make a patient feel special on his/her bday, tell him to act a little whacky and sing happy birthday while wearing a red clown nose or something. Make sure he does it for everyone.
    Great to see you on the Medical Monday grid! Thanks for linking up on this holiday! :)

    1. he wouldn't do anything himself really, this was just for curiosity sake. it really is a shame that such small acts of kindness have to be weighed now for risks.

  4. I'm loving the responses! Keep them coming!


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