How to Submit a Complaint
By Mary Ellen Vore, PT, MS
The New York Chapter Ethics Committee, serve as a resource to NYPTA members on issues relating to the ethical practice of physical therapy. The Committee investigates complaints of unethical behavior using The Code of Ethics(1) and Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant(2) as guides for determining possible unethical conduct. The Code of Ethics(1) is comprised of eleven Principles that should guide all physical therapists in their practice, regardless of practice setting. To further interpret and apply the intent of each Principle the APTA has developed The Guide for Professional Conduct(3). Physical Therapist Assistants are responsible for maintaining ethical standards using The APTA Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant(2) as a reference with the accompanying Guide for Conduct of the Physical Therapist Assistant(4) to assist in interpreting the Standards.
An investigation into violations of The Code of Ethics(1) or Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant(2) by the Committee can only occur after a formal complaint is filed. A signed complaint describing the conduct in question is submitted to the Chapter Office who forwards the complaint to the Chapter President and Chairman of the Ethics Committee. The complaint is reviewed by the President and Committee to determine if there is a potential violation of the Code or Standards. If it is determined that there is a potential violation, the complaint is forwarded by the President to the APTA Ethics and Judicial Committee who assigns a case number. Once a case number has been assigned, the Chapter Ethics Committee appoints an investigator who has 90 days to gather information about the case. When the investigative file is received by the Chapter Ethics Committee the respondent is offered an opportunity to have a hearing in front of the whole Committee. Following the hearing the APTA Ethics and Judicial Committee determines any recommended penalties for the violations.
Before a formal complaint is initiated you may contact any of the NYPTA Ethics Committee members through Chapter Office for guidance in the process. The detailed procedures to process a complaint are explained on the APTA website under Disciplinary Action Procedural Document(5).
Should you have questions about or need to report any professional illegal misconduct by a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant you can do so by contacting the Office of the Professions(6) and complete the Professional Discipline Complaint Form(7).
It is important that we are all knowledgeable of the ethical and legal practices of our profession. It is equally important to notify the appropriate individuals when you observe unethical or illegal conduct.
- American Physical Therapy Association. Code of Ethics.
- American Physical Therapy Association. Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant.
- American Physical Therapy Association. APTA Guide for Professional Conduct.
- American Physical Therapy Association. Guide for Conduct of the Physical Therapist Assistant.
- American Physical Therapy Association. Disciplinary Action Procedural Document.
- Office of the Professions. Professional Regulation in New York State. www.op.nysed.gov/aboutop.htm.
- Office of the Professions. Professional Discipline Complaint Form. www.op.nysed.gov/opd-complaint.pdf.