From time to time someone asks – what if I need to leave one hospital before shift change so I can make it to my next shift at a different facility? Is the CRTO okay with that? Well, the thing is that the position of the CRTO is not the primary consideration when determining the possible implications of leaving work early.   The employer and – most importantly – the patients are the most factors in this decision.

Occasionally, pretty much everyone needs to leave work a bit early (or arrives late) for one reason or another. Something urgent or unexpected might come up and, provided adequate coverage is provided, it’s not usually a problem. But what we are talking about here is something a bit more intentional and frequent, and – not be put too fine a point on it – something arguably self-serving. By that I mean, who benefits from the early departure? The patients who are left behind certainly don’t benefit, and neither does the employer or the RT’s colleagues who are left holding the bag.

I realize everyone needs to make a living, and that the current reality is many RTs need to work at multiple sites in order to cobble together a sufficient number of hours. However, that alone is not a good reason to leave work early. I’m not saying it can’t happen. But regardless of the practice setting or the type of coverage provided, before any RT walks out the door, they first need to ensure they have fulfilled their responsibilities to both to their (first) employer and their patients.

If leaving early is something that needs to happen from time to time, then the RT should have an honest conversation with their manager (or whoever they report to). It is also essential that the RTs charting and time sheet accurately reflects the number of hours that they actually worked. Interestingly enough, it is often not so much the leaving early that often causes the problem, (think suspension or termination) but trying to cover it up, falsifying charting and/or taking pay for hours not worked.

Finally – and most importantly – there are the patients to consider. It is the departing RTs responsibility to ensure that competent patient care will be provided in their absence. This requires a complete transfer of accountability to the appropriate healthcare professional who is ready and available to provide all necessary respiratory care services.

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