Can I Leave My Home Health Post If There Are Rats?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about home care with rats:

I am a health care worker and I was assigned to do a night-sit in a patient’s home for 9 hours. The house was infested with rats! I could hear them but not see them. Do I have the right to leave in a case such as that?

Signed, EEEK!

DearĀ EEEK!:

How upsetting it would be to hear the sound of rodents at night! There are no regulations or laws pertaining to what you can or can’t do in those situations, but the one thing you certainly can’t do is just leave a patient without a replacement caregiver, either someone else from your healthcare agency or a family member of the patient. You not only have an ethical responsibility, but you could lose your job if your manager thinks you are undependable. Your company could be sued if the patient or his or her family thinks proper care hasn’t been given.If you aren’t able to get a replacement for your shift and you must do the work in order to keep you job, remember this: Rodents come out to find food when their little rodent brains tell them there is no threat–usually when they haven’t heard a noise for awhile.

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