Ethical Issues Related to Fundraising from Grateful Patients
Health care institutions are becoming increasingly deliberate about philanthropic fundraising given the need to sustain their missions in the face of decreases in governmental research funds and lowering reimbursement for clinical care. Donations from grateful patients constitute 20% of all philanthropic contributions to academic medical centers, totaling nearly $1 billion a year in recent years. Institutions frequently employ development professionals to facilitate philanthropy. The development literature describes various approaches for identifying patients capable of contributing, cultivating potential donors, and engaging physicians in the solicitation of grateful patients, emphasizing that patients themselves may also benefit from exercising altruism in this way. However, little evidence exists to guide the ethical practice of grateful patient fundraising, and concerns exist regarding privacy and confidentiality, patient vulnerability, and physicians' conflicts of obligations in this context. Therefore, we will discuss how the process of philanthropic development should be structured in order to demonstrate respect for all persons involved, including patients who donate, those who might consider donation, those who do not wish to donate, and those who cannot afford to do so.
Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil
Professor and Deputy Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology; Director, Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School
Recorded April 11, 2018
To turn on closed captions for this video, click the CC icon in the video player and select English.