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Toni Talks about PT Today

What Do I Do?

Published January 3, 2012 2:07 PM by Toni Patt

I have a dilemma. Last week someone who I work closely with from another discipline came to me with a problem. One of the other therapists in my area made some mistakes. She said something to the wrong person and it created patient conflict. Patients on her caseload weren't being seen regularly and it was starting to cause problems.

It was brought to my attention because this person felt something needed to be done and wanted my help. I'm not a manager or a supervisor so I can't step in to fix the problem. But I know how things should be done and are normally done. It was obvious to me that wasn't the case. My dilemma is what to do. Do I tell them the details shared with me or do I keep quiet? Sharing the details makes it worse for her but is an easier fix to the problem.

I had no problem providing names and contact information for management within the department. Those things are easily obtainable. The question I've been asking myself is what else, if anything to do? This is tough. She shouldn't have said what she said. The patient's family wants to hold the hospital to what was said. Management is going to have to address this one. I'm torn between keeping confidences and protecting the therapist or becoming involved.

My department is very cutthroat. It is a competitive environment, partly because it is so large. I have no doubt were the situation reversed someone would speak up out of spite if nothing else. To me it isn't that simple. Nothing I say would affect the patient's care or outcome. It would be much easier to decide if that were the case. Saying something would help the resolution but not change anything.

Am I a rat or not? That's what I'm debating. My plan is to say nothing unless asked. Then I will stick to what I know from direct contact with the patient family. Other people can share the rest.


I actually have a hard time figuring out what is going on from what is said in the first paragraph, about not seeing pts on her caseload, and then the statement: "she shouldnt have said what she said." Was it a matter of not seeing patients or was something said to a family? I think that if you clarify and restate your concerns or question very clearly you will discover your answer. I've heard the saying: "the answer is contained within the question" and I've often found it to be true. Hope this helps.

Grant Abrams January 5, 2012 8:30 PM
New Paltz NY

Your question shows wisdom in you. "A wise person surrounds him/herself with a multitude of counsel". Gentle, tactful, humble, respectful approach usually works best. Figuring out a question or 2 which may provoke the person towards deeper thought on the subject tends to help me. Also, I find myself wondering if something heavy on your coworker's heart and mind is distracting him or her.

billy bell, sports & ortho - LPTA, upta January 5, 2012 1:55 PM
alexandria VA

I echo Dean and Lisa.  Except for to introduce co-workers to the proper person in the chain of command, stay out of this one.  Lisa highlighted an important factor:  you've determined that your involvement won't affect patient care.

Sometimes the quick fix circumvents learning.  You could actually be doing a disservice to those directly involved by solving this the easy way.  It is hard to see the answer and not be able to do anything.  But chances are the reason you can see the answer is because you were allowed the privilege of working through difficult problems on your own.  Provide them with the same learning experience by remaining on the sidelines.  

Like Lisa, I don't envy you on this one.  Good luck.

Jane Goude January 3, 2012 11:19 PM

I agree with Dean:   "Here is my colleague and they have something they want to discuss with you."  There is no reason for you to be involved.  Had the individual come to you directly for advice or help, then you could certainly give your opinion, but you aren't directly involved with the situation to necessitate more finger-pointing.  

I like your comment, too, "Nothing I say would affect the patient's care or outcome."  It's that simple.  

Very complicated situations, I don't envy you!  

Lisa Mueller January 3, 2012 6:05 PM

My suggestion is thus: If you have first hand knowledge of improper behaviour, then it is your responsibility to report it to that person's manager. If you only have hearsay of improper behaviour, explain to the person reporting it to you that you have no authority to act or take it further. Provide them with the name of the appropriate person to whom to report and encourage them to do so. You could offer to take them to the appropriate person with an introduction of "Here is my colleague and they have something they want to discuss with you." Good luck with this one!

Dean Metz January 3, 2012 4:47 PM

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