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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

So You Want to Be an Ethical Practitioner?

Published June 18, 2010 4:03 PM by Lisa Lombardo

Ever been present on the job where you witnessed a coworker--or even your boss--doing something either unethical or downright illegal? Even wondered what you would be obligated to report in such an instance? At PT 2010, some therapists got the chance to encounter such dilemmas and learn the right approaches to ethical problems.

On Friday, Nancy Kirsch, PT, DPT, PhD, and Cathy Hinton, PT, PhD, MS, provided some willing attendees with the opportunity to show they knew their stuff when it came to the Code of Ethics. Their interactive session, "So You Want to Be An Ethical Practitioner: The APTA Millionaire Game," allowed participants to consider a variety of ethical problems and scenarios as if they encountered them in the clinic, and use an electronic audience response system to respond to the questions posed by the moderators. The answers were combined into survey results, that reflected how a certain percentage of the therapists would apply the Code of Ethics rules to solve the dilemmas.

In addition to being a lot of fun and very interactive, the moderators' point was to see where most clinicians based their knowledge of the Code of Ethics, and what purpose it serves within regular PT practice. Ethical scenarios included a supervising PT allowing a PTA student to alter a patient's therapy program under Medicare (an illegal move), staff PTs dealing with witnessing unethical activities of a coworker, and how to report unethical behavior by a boss or supervisor.

The point of the exercise was to stress that in many instances, "there is no right or wrong answer," Dr. Hinton said. "It's about knowing how the Code can help you address these problems in the most effective way, to get the unethical behavior to stop."




Too many times I have witnessed this.  There seems to be "situational ethics" involved when we witness other practioners doing something wrong.  Too many providers do not report incidents and fraud and this can compromise patient safety.  

It takes a strong PT/PTA to stand up and say something.  Too many therapists sit back and are silent.

Jason Marketti June 19, 2010 3:01 PM

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