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Grateful patient fundraising, defined as the solicitation of philanthropic donations by health care providers from current and former patients, raises a number of legal and ethical issues. Elsewhere, I detailed the confidentiality issues raised by the use and disclosure of patient identifiable information by hospital development officers, major gifts officers, institutionally-related foundations, and commercial fundraisers, and proposed corrections to federal health information confidentiality regulations to better balance the competing aims of health care philanthropy and health information confidentiality. In this Article, I analyze several outstanding issues raised by physician involvement in grateful patient fundraising. That is, physicians who solicit philanthropic donations from their own patients risk conflicted health care decision making, health care resource allocation injustices, financial exploitation, and breach of privacy. To lesson these risks, this Article proposes new ethical guidelines governing physician involvement in grateful patient fundraising. This Article is also the first piece of legal scholarship to identify and reconcile two bioethical catch-22s associated with grateful patient fundraising.

Publication Citation

103 Ky. L.J. 199