Patients' gifts to dentists unwrapped by DDU

Patients have given dental professionals a diverse range of gifts in the last year to show their appreciation, ranging from wine and chocolates to ornaments and handmade decorations, a Dental Defence Union (DDU) survey has revealed.

In the lead-up to the holiday season, 129 members responded to a DDU survey to see how often they had received a gift in the last year, what they'd been given and whether certain gifts ever raised ethical dilemmas.

Chocolates and other edible gifts (87%) and alcohol (40%) continue to be the most popular gifts of choice.

But some gifts this year were more unusual. One dental professional was given a pig's head, while others received a pheasant, a puzzle and homemade Christmas decorations.

DDU dento-legal adviser David Lauder said:

'Our survey found 78% (100) of dental professionals who responded received at least one gift from patients in the last year, with 3% (4) lucky enough to receive more than 15 gifts in the year.

'Of those dental professionals, 98% said they had no concerns about their patient's motives in gift giving and 77% said they considered the most common reason for a patient to give them a gift is to show appreciation of the care provided.

'However, in the DDU's experience of providing dento-legal advice to members, accepting gifts from patients can occasionally present ethical issues. Difficulties can arise when the patient's motive for gift giving might be unclear or misconstrued, or when the gift is expensive.

'General Dental Council guidance states that dental professionals must refuse any gifts, payment or hospitality if accepting them could affect, or could appear to affect, their professional judgment.

'It may be advisable to ensure the patient understands their dental care would not be affected in any way by the gift. You may sometimes want to keep a record of these conversations, any correspondence, and the reasons for accepting the gift, if you did so.'

Further information:

  • 55% of respondents (71) were GDPs, 20% newly qualified dentists (26), 5.4% were dental hygienists/therapists (7), 5% hospital dentists (7), 5% consultants (6), 4% community dentists/armed forces dentists (5), and 3% dental nurses (4)
  • 38% of respondents were male (49) and 62% female (80).

This guidance was correct at publication 12/12/2016. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

GDC

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Patients' gifts to dentists unwrapped by DDU

Patients have given dental professionals a diverse range of gifts in the last year to show their appreciation, ranging from wine and chocolates to ornaments and handmade decorations, a Dental Defence Union (DDU) survey has revealed.

Read more