Physical therapists are health care professionals who provide essential medical care to help restore and maintain physical functioning for their patients. They accomplish their responsibilities by examining, evaluating, and diagnosing their patients’ movement, providing diagnoses regarding any dysfunction, establishing a prognosis, developing a plan of medical treatment to address the issues, and providing the necessary treatments and medical interventions. Their services are often required to either prevent or treat physical injuries as well as impairments and disabilities associated with certain diseases and medical conditions.
Physical therapists are often employed in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, physician offices/clinics, and many others are self-employed. Most are required to be licensed in the state(s) in which they practice. Physical therapists are generally required to exercise that degree of care that reasonably competent physical therapists would employ under the same or similar circumstances in the local community.
In a study by a large professional medical malpractice liability insurer that analyzed a database of 1,464 open (347) and closed (1,117) malpractice claims brought against its insured physical therapists between January 1, 1993 and March 31, 2006, it was determined that $43,367,287 had been paid for both indemnity payments ($28,218,934) and expenses payments ($15,148,353) for closed claims. The average annual malpractice insurance premium for physical therapists in 2005 was $348 and the average indemnity payment made in the closed cases was $39,857.
At least one claim against a physical therpist was reported in each state. The states with the highest numbers of claims were California, New York, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Illinois, and New Jersey — claims originating in New York and Callifornia represented 32% of the claims. In Maryland, there were 13 closed claims that had an indemnity payment with an average indemnity payment in the amount of $31,496.
The majority of claims originated outside of the hospital setting (77%). The most serious claims occurred in nursing home environments, with an average payment in the amount of $76,215. Fractures and burns accounted for 45% of the closed claims that had an indemnity payment. Delay in recovery accounted for 11%. The most serious injuries were loss on an eye ($474,000), loss of function of an unspecified organ ($106,000), and brain damage ($200,000). The most frequent malpractice allegations were failure to supervise treatment or procedure, injury during manipulation, improper technique, and injury during heat therapy or hot packs. The most serious claims involved allegations of failure to report patients’ conditions to physicians, failure to complete proper assessments of patients, failure to refer patients, failure to seek proper consultatons, and failure to follow established policies. Other allegations of malpractice included the failure to prevent injury during treatment and inappropriate behavior during treatment.
If a physical therapist caused you to be injured as a result of negligent treatment, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Visit our website to be connected to local medical malpractice lawyers who may be able to represent you in bringing a medical malpractice claim on your behalf or call us toll free 800-295-3959.
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