Nonprofit hospitals across the United States are seeking donations from the people who rely on them most: their patients.
Many hospitals conduct nightly wealth screenings — using software that culls public data such as property records, contributions to political campaigns and other charities — to gauge which patients are most likely to be the source of large donations.
Those who seem promising targets for fund-raising may receive a visit from a hospital executive in their rooms, as well as extra amenities like a bathrobe or a nicer waiting area for their families.
Some hospitals train doctors and nurses to identify patients who have expressed gratitude for their care, and then put the patients in touch with staff fund-raisers.
These various tactics, part of a strategy known as "grateful patient programs," make some people uncomfortable. "Wealth screenings strike me as unseemly but not illegal or unethical," said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the New York University School of Medicine.