Legal and Ethical Issues for PTs: Considerations In Risk Management

Jonathan Cooperman, PT, DPT, MS, JD, FNAP
Ron William Scott, PT, EdD, MS, JD, LLM, MSBA, OCS

Course Description

This course provides the physical therapist clinical doctoral learner with foundational information as to legal, ethical and administrative decision-making processes regarding issues often encountered in clinical practice. Specific topics include PT malpractice, legal aspects of documentation, informed consent, sexual harassment and misconduct, professional responsibility, preparation for a deposition, criminal/contract/ education law issues, and liability risk management. There is also an optional lecture on managed care issues. Utilizing theoretical frameworks, case-based decision-making situations are presented. The applications presented emphasize the ethical/legal responsibilities of the physical therapist as an autonomous practitioner.

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  • Compare the nature of health care and physical malpractice, civil and criminal litigation, and administrative processes.
  • Construct effective strategies to simultaneously optimize quality of patient care and minimize the risk of liability exposure in clinical practice.
  • Prepare, if needed, to be an effective expert, fact witnesses and/or consultant in legal and/or administrative cases requiring physical therapist input.
  • Synthesize legal and ethical responsibilities and values into a formal patient informed consent policy statement in clinical physical therapy practice.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the coprimary purposes for patient care documentation, and analyze their hierarchy of importance.
  • Apply clinical risk management principles to special documentation problems, including: adverse incident reporting and reporting of abuse and other mandatory reports.
  • Distinguish and resolve ethical and legal issues arising in practice using concrete construct and problem-solving methodology.
  • Effectively resolve allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct arising in the work place.
  • Debate or defend with professional and support colleagues in the work place those interpersonal behaviors that are: acceptable, precautionary, and unacceptable to the ordinary reasonable person.
  • Explain the nature of health care business contractual relationships, and synthesize that understanding into an effective personal policy for employment-related contract management in their professional careers.
  • Analyze the key legal and ethical issues in managed care, and discover that the law and professional ethics have not changed substantially in order to accommodate the business of managed health care delivery.