Addressing Conflicts of Interest

A conflict of interest exists when you are receiving or are perceived to be receiving a benefit, from an individual or organization, that could influence your professional judgement. The most common “benefit” is financial, but it is not the only kind of benefit that may be received.

It is professional misconduct to practice while in a conflict of interest.

Conflicts of interest are more likely to occur in the community or home care setting where RTs deal with sales/billing, but may also occur in hospitals when RTs are advising discharged patients about respiratory equipment or service requirements.

Removing the conflict  of interest can be achieved by disclosing to your patients/ clients (or their substitute decision maker), orally and in writing, that you will receive a benefit from the individual or organization before making any recommendation to the patient/client to purchase equipment or services from that individual or organization.  In order for patients/clients to make fully informed decisions you must disclose the complete nature of your relationship with the individual or organization, e.g., that you receive financial compensation from the individual/organization for each purchase made by a patient/client. In addition, you must advise the patients/clients orally and in writing, that their care will not be affected if they choose to go elsewhere to purchase that equipment/service. Providing a list of alternative sources for equipment/ services is strongly recommended; please refer to our sample template.