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Risk Control Recommendations

Jennifer L. Flynn, CPHRM

February 25, 2022

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Question

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

Answer

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

Using Malpractice Claims Data to Identify Risks in PT Practice
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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.

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