Can I Give My Patients a Gift?

August 1, 2003

Dr. Sun runs a large medical and cosmetic dermatology practice in a moderately wealthy, middle-class Sun Belt community. A large portion of his practice base is above the age of 65. Many of these patients present with a variety of skin cancers. The same patients seek cosmetic treatments with lasers, peels, botulinum toxin, and filler agents. Dr. Sun finds that treating the sola-induced comedones in these patients is not cost-effective. Thus, he gives gratis comedone extractors to his combined medical-surgical patients. He finds that his purchasing and providing such medical devices is a very subtle marketing tool. His patients are very appreciative of this gesture. A fellow jealous competing physician has reported this activity to the state medical board. The complaining physician