What gifts is it OK to accept?
"What sorts of gifts (thank you gifts, Christmas presents) from patients are deemed appropriate? And don't say 'nothing' because that just isn't practical," writes DAN EZEKIEL, MD, of Vancouver, BC.
Your question asks: when does a gift of appreciation for services rendered become payment or a bribe in order to receive future preferential treatment? This is considered an especially serious ethical dilemma in politics where gifts are usually given in expectation of favours and where the giving may be in violation of the law. Under Medicare, you can't charge for services and, as a member of a professional association, you're under an obligation to refrain from exploiting patients for your own advantage. Where it's permissible to charge a fee, the CMA Code of Ethics provides that the nature of the service provided is one of the factors to be considered. To assess if a present is appropriate, you would have to use your judgement, taking into consideration the personal character of the gift and its proportionate monetary value relative to the nature and extent of the services which were or are to be rendered. Your instinct, moral sense and conscience are probably your best guides.
(see our psychiatrist's response to this question in the psychiatry category)