Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Summarizes the Ethical Duties of a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists profess to treat a multitude of common ailments by increasing mobility and motion in lieu of medical intervention. Physical therapy as a healing art is premised on the principle that moving “pain-free” is essential to good health and is a cost-effective alternative to other medical modalities. Physical therapists work with patients to increase strength and flexibility thereby increasing, depending upon individual circumstances,  the quality of one’s daily life.  Because a physical therapist provides a vital medical service to the public, the physical therapist must be duly licensed to practice. In Kansas, the Kansas Board of the Healing Arts (“the Board”) oversees physical therapist licensing and ethical practices.  Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger devotes her practice to the representation of licensed professionals, such as physical therapists, who face disciplinary proceedings in both Kansas and Missouri.

Physical therapy provides the opportunity for patients suffering from pain or lack of mobility to reverse those ailments without prescription drugs or surgery.  For example, the American Physical Therapy Association (“APTA”) explains that freedom of movement will help reduce obesity, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as fracture and arthritis risk. The APTA further explains that increased mobility—one of the primary benefits of physical therapy—decreases the risk of falling by encouraging consistent movement to benefit our sense of balance. In addition to increased mobility, decreased pain is another perceived benefit of physical therapy.  The APTA cites a Journal of the American Medical Association study that concluded that back-pain is “over-treated” by physicians ordering costly diagnostics and treatment, such as “imaging” and surgery.  According to the APTA, physical therapy is a “cost-effective” alternative to “surgery and injections” to treat back-pain and other ailments, such as torn rotator cuffs, meniscus tears, and degenerative disc disease.

To ensure that physical therapy is practiced ethically, the APTA promulgated the “Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist.”  The Code of Ethics establishes an industry standard of the physical therapists’ role in treating a patient, minimum standards of care, while promoting a patient-centric approach to health care. The APTA delineated 10 principles of physical therapy to guide the practitioner in providing health care in the Code of Ethics. Accordingly, physical therapists are implored to respect their patients and communicate well with them; practice with integrity; avoid misrepresenting their credentials and potential outcomes of treatment; and use sound professional judgment that is in the best interest of the patient at all times. Specifically, the Code of Ethics obligates practitioners to obey federal and state laws and regulations.

In Kansas, the Board of Healing Arts is the licensing authority for physical therapists. The Board of Healing Arts (“the Board”), by authority conveyed by statute, may deny licensure, renewal, or may take adverse action against a physical therapist’s license for conduct including but not limited to alcohol or drug dependency, felony conviction, or unprofessional conduct as defined by the Board’s rules and regulations. The regulations are consistent with, although more specific than, the APTA’s Code of Ethics. In Kansas, unprofessional conduct is defined as, for instance, failing to practice skillfully due to alcoholism or drug dependency and/or mental illness; committing gross or ordinary negligence; demonstrative incompetence; “advertising a guarantee” relating to physical therapy; making false or misleading claims in advertisements, including misrepresenting one’s own credentials; continuing unwarranted treatment or ordering useless tests or procedures; and charging excessive fees.

What To Do If You Are A Physical Therapist Facing An Ethical Investigation

If you are a physical therapist facing an investigation or complaint for unethical practices, contact Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger immediately at 785-979-4353 to discuss your options and defenses. Attorney Sanger has vast experience defending professional licensees in Kansas and Missouri against alleged ethical violations. Attorney Sanger is a zealous and tireless advocate who will pursue every available defense on your behalf. Call Attorney Sanger today for your free consultation.