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Toni Talks about PT Today

The Cost of Being Ethical

Published March 27, 2012 11:01 AM by Toni Patt

Last week I wrote about my experience in an outpatient clinic where the PT didn't write notes. This week I am going to tell you what happened. In order to back up what I said, I did some research. I looked up the PT Rules for Practice written by the PT Board of Examiners for the state of Texas. Articles 322.1 and 322.4 state there must be documentation of all PT treatment and also provide specifics of what the documentation can include. This information is available over the Internet. It took me less than five minutes to find it.

The incident I described happened on a Tuesday. The following Monday, I was fired from that contract company. I was told I was a liability because I could have cost them business. They were lucky that the PT in question was forgiving and didn't cancel the contract but they could no longer trust me in the clinic. I was told that I upset everyone in the clinic by saying I was going to call the board and that I needed to get myself fixed. I was also told I couldn't be trusted because I contacted the board after I was specifically told not to.

Let's look at that. They probably knew they were going to terminate me shortly after the incident happened. By waiting until the following Monday, it practically ensured I wouldn't be able to work the rest of the week. I would have to find a different employer and complete all of the pre-employment requirements. The previous Friday, I was told I had an assignment pending for the next week but it had not been confirmed. While that is completely legal, it isn't exactly honest or ethical.

This company prides itself on being ethical. It stresses how it doesn't hire new graduates and follows all of the rules. Yet when presented with a very ethical situation, they tried to look the other way. I was told to ignore the situation. If I contacted the board, it would give the appearance that something was wrong when, according to the person I spoke to, nothing was wrong. That impression wasn't acceptable.

I don't doubt someone from the company did call the board. But they didn't speak to the correct person. That would have been someone in the investigations section. I know they didn't because I actually spoke to the person who should have been called. Nor did the company check the online rules because the rules support me.

What would have happened if this had been a physician instead of a physical therapist? How fast would it have taken for someone to react? There would be lawsuits. It might have made the local newspapers. Whoever exposed the problem would have been lauded. I was fired.

I'm not sorry I no longer work for that company, even though I'd been with them for years. I will miss the people. I will miss the feeling of family they created. I am still shocked at the way this played out.

4 comments

This is NOT how PTs deserve to be treated!  I am glad you are out of that situation, but too bad it happened this way.  Sounds to me like the TRUST issue is theirs, as I would not trust that employer.  At least now you can believe in yourself and sleep at night.  You'll find a great job soon that upholds the morals and ethics you fought for.

Juli , PT - Director of Rehab April 7, 2012 2:44 PM

Toni,

This reads like a "movie of the week" plotline. It really is unbelievable. The fact that you got fired, not so much the way they handled it. If the company was willing to fire you over this, then the way they went about it falls in step perfectly with the company's character.

So sorry you are having to go through this.

Jane Goude March 28, 2012 7:55 PM

I literally cannot believe what I am reading!  Seems almost comical.  Unreal.  

I hope there is some follow-through for the therapist to have some accountability.  I'm sorry the story so far has ended with you being fired, but hopefully you created enough of a stir to make a change.  

Very, very impressed by your professionalism throughout the entire situation.  You stood up for what was right, and that is never the wrong thing to do.  

Lisa Mueller March 28, 2012 7:16 PM

I'm gob-smacked! "Couldn't trust you in the clinic"?!? The way you have been treated is obscene. Are there no whistle-blower laws to protect you in Texas?

I wish you didn't have to be going through this. There is a saying, "No good deed goes unpunished." It seems to fit.

I remember leaving a company about a decade ago over a dispute about an ethical issue. The program director (but not the one with the power to change things) was also leaving. She sat me down and said, "Never sell out to things you can't support with your full commitment, because in the end, yourself is all you have." That philosophy has caused me some grief, but I've always been able to look at myself in the mirror in the morning.

I hope you find a new, more supportive post quickly.

Dean Metz March 27, 2012 1:11 PM

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