Kansas Physical Therapists: The Seven Deadly Sins

As a physical therapist, your professional license is not just a symbol of your accomplishment but they key to your livelihood. However, it only takes one misstep and all that you have worked so hard to accomplish can be gone in an instant. Here are some of the most common errors that have cost physical therapists their license:

1)      HIPAA Violations: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was established in 1996.  Accordingly, HIPAA requires healthcare professionals to safeguard a patient’s health records. A simple story told by a licensee to friends at dinner party, which accidentally contains information that could identify a patient, would violate HIPAA. A physical therapist who commits an act in violation of HIPAA may lose their license, incur harsh monetary fines and even face imprisonment.

2)      Failure to Document: Failing to properly document your actions in a patient’s medical records can jeopardize your license. Clearly, the job of a physical therapist is demanding. However, licensees need to make sure that their patient records are properly kept. If you are uncertain as to whether you are properly maintaining your records, seek professional assistance immediately. Proper documentation can serve to protect the licensee if the care or treatment of the patient is called into question. However, in order to do so, the documentation must also be clear, legible and accurate.

3)      Inappropriate Sexual Conduct: Having a sexual relationship with a patient is an obvious no-no. But licensees also need to make sure that their speech, gestures and touch are not inappropriate.  Different patients, based on their culture, age and gender will have differing ideas about what types of touching are allowable. Make sure to explain all procedures carefully and obtain a signed consent form before initiating treatment.

4)      Fraudulent Billing Practices: Charging different rates for private payers versus those with insurance, changing dates of medical services, and providing services that the patient does not need (but which are covered by Medicare) are several examples of billing fraud. Licensees who engage in fraudulent billing practices not only risk their licenses but may also face criminal charges.

5)      Felony Convictions and Other Unprofessional Conduct: A felony conviction may result in the loss of a license, regardless of whether the felony is related to the licensee’s profession. Licensees can also lose their license for failing to pay their student loans. Make sure that you are current on the licensing requirements in your state, since ignorance of the law is not a defense.

6)      Addiction and Mental Health Problems: If you are struggling with substance abuse or suffering from a mental health problem you need to get help. Treatment options are available to licensees who have problems. Do not let alcohol or drugs rob you of your professional license.

7)      Negligent Treatment of Patients: Last, not but certainly not least, patients need to receive the highest standard of care. While all patient care is associated with some risk, negligent treatment is more likely to result in serious injury.

If you are facing disciplinary proceedings or even if you are only subject to an initial investigation, contact Danielle Sanger now for a free and completely confidential consultation at 785-979-4353.  The Sanger Law Office is centrally located in Lawrence, KS and represents individuals and businesses before state licensing boards and in administrative hearing in Kansas and Missouri. Our team will fully investigate the evidence and charges brought against you so that we can develop an effective strategy to protect your license, reputation, and professional livelihood.