An unusual lawsuit was filed by a patient’s family against a surgeon, the management of the hospital in which the doctor was employed and the hospital’s Friend’s Association. The petition claimed that the patient, who passed away about three months after surgery, donated a sum of money to the doctor to ensure that he, and no one else, would conduct the operation. The petition demanded the return of this money to the family.
The lawsuit also specified that close to the time in which the donation was made, the patient and his family “were in a state of tension and anxiety and concerned about the life of the deceased should the surgery be unsuccessful, and in this emotional state were willing to give a large sum of money to ensure that the specific doctor would conduct the surgery, and that if there were complications during the operation, the defendant’s extensive experience and skills would be available to save the deceased’s life.”
The legal claim also stated that the deceased and his family “were unaware of the fact that monetary consideration provided in exchange for the surgery, whether directly to the surgeon or indirectly as a donation to the hospital’s Friends’ association, is an act prohibited by law, and is defined as a bribe.”
The case received considerable attention in the media, prompting the hospital director to return the donation to the deceased’s family. Addressing the issue, the hospital director stressed that it is impossible to maintain a medical center in Israel without donations from patients. These donations are used to improve the conditions of hospitalized patients, fund additional personnel and procure advanced medical equipment – purposes for which the specific donation was, in fact, utilized. However, the Director clarified that he did not want to receive a donation that was not given wholeheartedly and of the donor’s own free will. With this, the case came to a close.
- Medical institutions have historically depended on donations. Such a philanthropic culture is in effect also today.
- Donations should be given of the donor’s free will and at his or her initiative.
- In the case of a hospitalized patient, the donation should be given at the end of the hospitalization period and after completion of the medical treatment received.
- No pressure of any kind shall be exerted on a patient in order to receive a donation.
- Neither the receipt of medical treatment, the outcome of medical treatment nor the identity of the medical practitioner shall be contingent on receipt of a donation.
- A donation shall be given through the management of the medical institution, recorded in an organized manner, and a legal receipt will be issued to the donor.
- The donation will be used to advance the professional level of doctors, improve service provided to patients or to enhance the work conditions in the department or clinic.
- A donation shall not be used for the donation recipient’s personal needs.