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Risk Control Recommendations

Jennifer L. Flynn, CPHRM

February 25, 2022



What are some risk control recommendations for both physical therapists and practice owners?  


Risk control recommendations for therapists include: 

  • Know and comply with your state laws regarding the scope of physical therapy practice. Therapists are responsible for knowing and understanding the regulations governing the practice of physical therapy in each state where they practice, as well as the policies and protocols of their employers and the facilities where they provide services.
  • Follow referring practitioner's orders. If orders are ambiguous or unclear, contact the practitioner to clarify orders and document any changes and conversations with the practitioner in the PT healthcare record. 
  • Recognize patients’ medical conditions, comorbidities, and any additional specific risk factors that may affect therapy. Notify the appropriate practitioner(s) of the patient’s clinical responses to therapy, and swiftly convey any signs or symptoms of physiological or psychological changes that could indicate a new pathological condition or a change in an existing condition.
  • Document your patient care assessments, observations, communications, and actions in an objective, timely, accurate, complete, appropriate, and legible manner. 
  • Never alter a record for any reason or add anything to a healthcare record after the fact unless it is necessary for the patient’s care. If information must be added to the record, accurately label the late entry. However, never add anything to a record for any reason after a claim has been made. If additional information related to the patient’s care emerges after becoming aware of pending legal action, discuss the need for additional documentation with your manager, the organization’s risk manager, and/or legal counsel.

Risk Recommendations for providers include:  

  • Perform at least annual performance reviews for each employee, including a review of errors, “near misses”, document requirements compliance, existing skills and directly observed competencies.
  • Provide physical therapy staff with coaching, mentoring, and clinical and system education as needed to ensure that patient safety requirements are satisfied.
  • Ensure that clinical practices comply with standards endorsed by physical therapy professional associations, state practice acts, and facility protocols.
  • Provide appropriate clinical support for physical therapists, in compliance with supervisory or employment agreements. Encourage compliance with relevant legal, ethical, and professional standards for clinical practice

For further information on risk management, please see the course Using Malpractice Claims Data to Identify Risks in PT Practice by Jennifer Flynn, CPHRM

jennifer l flynn

Jennifer L. Flynn, CPHRM

Jennifer Flynn, CPHRM, is Vice President and Risk Manager for Healthcare Providers Service Organization in the Healthcare Division of Aon’s Affinity Insurance Services, Inc. Specializing in risk management and having worked in the health care insurance business for over 21 years, Jennifer is dedicated to educating health care professionals on professional liability risks and offers strategies to mitigate those risks by supporting patient safety principles and developing quality management programs.  In addition to being a frequent national speaker on healthcare risk and liability, Jennifer is also a published author on various risk management topics. Jennifer is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management and is a licensed Property & Casualty agent. She earned a BA in Psychology from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

Related Courses

PTs and Patient Non-Compliance
Presented by Jennifer L. Flynn, CPHRM, Lynn Pierce, BSN, RN, CPHRM
Recorded Webinar


Jennifer L. Flynn, CPHRMLynn Pierce, BSN, RN, CPHRM
Course: #2973Level: Introductory2 Hours
  'This course clearly demonstrated the need for concise and timely documentation and the ramifications that may occur if not done'   Read Reviews
Patient noncompliance can come in many forms: unwillingness to follow a course of therapy, repeated missed appointments, rejecting treatment recommendations, reluctance to take medications, refusal to provide information or chronic late payments. If left unchecked, such conduct may result in litigation. The objective of this presentation is to enable Physical Therapists with strategies to not only recognize these patient behaviors but also take steps to reduce the likelihood of malpractice claims. Using selected claim scenarios, PTs and PTAs can examine their own current risk control practices in relation to the claims and losses experienced by their peers.

Using Malpractice Claims Data to Identify Risks in PT Practice
Presented by Jennifer L. Flynn, CPHRM
Recorded Webinar


Jennifer L. Flynn, CPHRM
Course: #4347Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Provided basic understanding'   Read Reviews
HPSO and CNA’s liability claim report, Physical Therapy Liability Claim Report: 4th Edition, addresses top areas of physical therapy professionals’ most common professional liability concerns, including emerging risks and ways that PTs can protect themselves from liability exposures. Using case studies and claim data, PTs can examine top areas of liability through the experiences of your peers. Most importantly, this session provides you with immediately implementable practices that you can use to help prevent or defend against malpractice allegations, while also enhancing patient safety. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA.

Supporting the LGBTQ Senior in Healthcare
Presented by Kathleen D. Weissberg, OTD, OTR/L, CMDCP, CDP, OTR/L
Recorded Webinar


Kathleen D. Weissberg, OTD, OTR/L, CMDCP, CDP, OTR/L
Course: #4096Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  '"By 2030, there will be approximately 7 million LGBT older people in the United States'   Read Reviews
This training describes the required elements for responding to the emerging needs of long term care communities to provide sensitive and respectful services to LGBT elders. The training reviews definitions related to sexual orientation and gender identity challenges experienced by LGBT older adults, and strategies for communication and policies that honor residents' rights. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT and PTA.

OASIS E: New Items
Presented by Cindy Krafft, PT, MS, HCS-O
Recorded Webinar


Cindy Krafft, PT, MS, HCS-O
Course: #4612Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  'It is very relevant in my current practice setting which is Home Health'   Read Reviews
The course will focus on the items that are unique to the OASIS E data collection process. Official guidance sources will be explored to ensure the accuracy of the information.

Tele-Rehabilitation: Demystifying the Use of Technology to Deliver Physical Therapy
Presented by Donald Hayes, PT, GTC
Recorded Webinar


Donald Hayes, PT, GTC
Course: #3334Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  'The instructed provided good example on how to effectively modify testing in a home enviroment'   Read Reviews
Educate clinicians to the evidence and approaches to perform physical therapy via tele-rehabilitation. The course will cover patient care from evaluation through discharge and a variety of diagnoses. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT and PTA.

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