Accept free equipment from your hospital

February 18, 2005

I'm a rural family physician who practices obstetrics. My local hospital wants to give me an ultrasound machine it no longer uses. Is there any reason not to accept this gift?

Q: I'm a rural family physician who practices obstetrics. My local hospital wants to give me an ultrasound machine it no longer uses. Is there any reason not to accept this gift?

A: You could run into trouble with the Stark antireferral rules if the machine's fair market value is greater than $300. So get a written valuation from the hospital or an appraiser. If the value of the machine is $300 or less, make sure the hospital doesn't require you to make any referrals as a condition of accepting the gift.