Conflict of Interest-What To Consider.

As we have become increasingly aware of the power of external factors to influence interpretation and reasoning—and the possibility that these external factors may undermine objectivity—Regulated Professionals have begun to pay more attention to conflicts of interest.

 

 

Kelly is a self regulated professional that has her own business while still working for a long term facility.  Kelly asked the question “Is it alright to give my business card to my long term facility clients?”

This is a very good question.  Many of us have interests outside our work and some that we earn from.  What do you think the correct answer is?

The answer is no, it is inappropriate to refer clients from your employment or contracted work to your alternative private business.  Even as regulated professional, Kelly has contracted herself to the company or client for a specific area of healthcare. 

This example is a conflict of interest; whereby an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest occurs.

As we have become increasingly aware of the power of external factors to influence interpretation and reasoning—and the possibility that these external factors may undermine objectivity—Regulated Professionals  have begun to pay more attention to conflicts of interest. Practice Standards set for Nurses in Canada specifically prohibits conflicts of professional interest. Individuals must  avoid engaging in conflicts of interest whereby personal, financial, or other considerations have the potential to influence or compromise professional judgment and objectivity.

Such conflicts may result in a situation in which personal, financial, and/or nonfinancial considerations have the potential to influence or compromise professional judgment in clinical service, research, consultation, instruction, administration, or any other professional activity. It is important to note that it is not necessary for such influence or compromise to have occurred before a situation can be identified as a conflict of interest. It is sufficient for the situation to appear to provide the potential for professional judgment to be compromised.

Disclaimer: This information is provided in an attempt to heighten sensitivity, increase awareness, and enhance judgments on this topic. We encourage our audiance to contact their professional body to learn more about it. CompanyOn does not represent o speak on behalf of any regulatory body. 

Based on the example above, there are three types of conflicts of interest to highlight:


Actual conflict of interest would be when the client believes they will get better health care by also employing Kelly to take care of their feet. Kelly may innocently be unaware of this assumption or alternatively she has the power to tell the client that there is an issue with their feet and that she can treat it if they employ her separately.


A perceived conflict of interest is when Kelly innocently gives the health care client her card in case they require care from her private business. However, a relative of the client sees the card and decides that Kelly could gain from her existing position as a carer for the client.


A potential conflict of interest is when Kelly gives the client her card and says you may be interested in calling me in the future for foot care. This could be a breach of the trust that Kelly has and there is also potential for a conflict in the future.

What to Do About Conflicts of Interest?

When faced with a potential conflict of interest, there are three appropriate responses: avoid, disclose, and recuse.

It is best to avoid situations that could result in conflicts of interest whenever possible.  Self regulated professional such as nurses,  should not accept gifts or benefits unless it can be clearly demonstrated that such gifts or benefits primarily contribute to the welfare of persons served professionally; do not reasonably appear to bias professional judgment; enhance one’s professional knowledge and skills; and/or do not diminish the dignity or autonomy of the professions.

Disclosure is essentially a self-initiated action, with the intent to be honest and complete, to provide personal and professional information in order to remain ethically compliant with your Professional Stardards. The act of disclosure is a process of transparency and accountability.

Recusal is the action of withdrawing from situations when one’s participation creates bias that could adversely influence the decision. By disclosing the nature of the association and by stepping out of the decision-making process, the professional ensures that any personal preferences or biases they may have will not unfairly influence the outcome.

It is crucial that you do not promote any private business interests to your client or their family members to any business interest of your family, friends or yourself.

At CompanyOn, we’re committed to supporting our audience, no matter if they are just thinking in pursuing professional independence, or they are already well established solo practitioners. If there are topics you would like to learn more about, please let us know by connecting with us via our social media channels.

Related Resources:

British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives

College of Nurse of Ontario

College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta

College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba

College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Manitoba

Canadian Nurses Association

Canadian Nurses Protective Society

Canadian Association of Foot Care Nurses

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