Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest

The CRTO Conflict of Interest Professional Practice Guideline (PPG) states that a conflict of interest is created when an RT puts themselves in position where a reasonable person could conclude that they are:


undertaking an activity or


having a relationship

that effects or influences their professional judgment. A conflict of interest may be actual or apparent (perceived). (CRTO, 2014)  A good rule of thumb is that if an RT senses that they may be in a conflict of interest, they likely are.

An RT working in the home care setting visits one of their patients/clients on a regular basis to change the individual’s tracheostomy tube. As a result of this frequent interaction, they develop a congenial but purely professional relationship. The patient/client passes away after a few years and leaves the RT a large sum of money in their will. The RT states they were not aware of this fact until after the patient/client’s death and at no point did they encourage the patient/client to alter their will. Would it be a conflict of interest for the RT to accept the money?

The ethical principle involved is to act fairly.

In this scenario, there may not be an actual conflict, as the RT’s care of the patient/client was not likely to have been affected by this financial gift. However, there is a possibility of a perceived conflict of interest and therefore the RT should proceed with caution in accepting any gift and consult legal advice.

An RT works at the only acute care hospital in a small city and on nights, works sole charge. A member of their spouse’s family is ventilated in their ICU. Are they permitted to look after them?

The ethical principal is to do good and do no harm.

Providing care to a member of one’s own family is never an optimal situation and should not be undertaken if other options are available. However, there are times when providing RT services to a family member is unavoidable. If the family member requires the services of a Respiratory Therapist and there is no one else available, then the RT must act in the best interest of the patient. If they decide to provide care, they need to be sure to document the potential conflict of interest. Also, it is essential that the RT do everything in their power to transfer care to another RT or equivalent practitioner as soon as possible and as appropriate.

For more information, please see the CRTO Conflict of Interest PPG at: