When Are Patient Gifts Acceptable During The Season of Giving

Federal law regarding gifts is very clear: if the person giving you the gift is in a position to refer or generate business for you, or someone with whom you have a financial relationship, you may not accept it. But what about a gift from a patient?

If the patient is seeking preferential treatment by giving you a gift then say, “No thank you.” The AAPC explains that “….if a patient provides gifts with the expectation of receiving something in return, such as medically unnecessary care, this creates the impression that the physician is making medical decisions based on gifts. Such gifting not only undermines the physician’s reputation for providing objective, medically necessary care, but could potentially implicate the federal anti-kickback statute, which makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully solicit or receive any remuneration (including gifts) in exchange for services reimbursable by a federal healthcare program like Medicare or Medicaid.”

The AMA’s general advice is that the more unique and expensive the gift, the more likely it is to fall outside of professional boundaries surrounding the physician/patient relationship and to create ethical issues.

Keep in mind that the gift will impact your relationship with the patient, whether you accept it or reject it. In a New York Times article, Dr. David Brendel, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says to reject a gift could be very disruptive to the treatment relationship and damage your ability to treat the patient. This scenario usually occurs with elderly patients who will be insulted if you say no. So how do you say no?

When you have decided that refusing a gift is the right thing to do, say no gracefully and kindly so as to protect the patient’s feelings.
• Acknowledge the kindness of the gift and the thought behind it
• Thank the patient for his or her generosity
• Explain why you cannot accept the gift- personal, practice or hospital policy
• If it is a personal choice to say no, explain why you don’t feel comfortable accepting the gift
• Say no with warmth and sincerity and make eye contact with the patient

CONTACT US: Happy Holidays from all of us at Fuoco Group and TFG Health Services. We hope the best gift you get this holiday season is your own good health, and time with family and friends! The next best thing is financial security in the New Year – let our tax, accounting, and financial advisors help you find the solutions you are looking for both personally and for your practice. Call us toll free: 855-534-2727.

In The News

The New York Real Estate Journal recently featured a "Ones To Watch" Spotlight, focusing on both up and coming professionals as well as industry veterans across all areas of real estate. Congratulations to Lou Fuoco CPA, CEPA, for being included in this prestigious group of “OTW” for 2019!

Press and Events

Fuoco Group and TFG Related Entities are proud to announce that Fuoco Group’s Hauppauge Office, was voted #2 overall in the category of “Accounting Firm Less Than 100 Employees” in the 2019 Long Island Business News Reader Rankings. The Firm was also honored to be recognized as a “top three” Best Accounting Firm Finalist.
Scott Small, CPA, has  joined the Fuoco Group accounting and business advisory firm as Audit and Accounting Senior Manager in the Hauppauge office. Scott will assist the Directors in New York and Florida with expanding the Firm’s accounting and assurance practice.