Ethics Committee: Q and A
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Q and A 

Disciplinary Actions

This answer has come from the NYS office of the professions website. For the answers to questions similar to this one, visit

Q: What happens when a licensed professional is the subject of disciplinary action?

A: Minor forms of misconduct may be handled through advisory letters or administrative warnings issued by the Office of the Professions; these administrative actions are confidential. The penalties for more serious misconduct range from a fine to the revocation of the license to practice, in accordance with the nature of the misconduct and its consequences. The Board of Regents, which oversees the State Education Department and its Office of the Professions, reviews and takes final action on the most serious professional discipline cases.

If the disciplined professional's license to practice has not been revoked or suspended, the Office of the Professions may monitor the professional to ensure that probationary terms--such as periodic employer reports or retraining courses--are met.

posted May 24, 2010



 Filing a Complaint

Q: How do I file a complaint?

A: You will need to complete a complaint form and send it to the regional office nearest you or fax it to our main professional discipline office.  If you would like to speak with someone first about professional misconduct or unlicensed practice, you may call our complaint hotline at 1-800-442-8106.

For information about contacting the NYS Office of Professional Discipline regional offices, click here.

Signing your Name

Q: How should I sign my name?

A: There seems to be some confusion regarding the correct designation for a licensed physical therapist to use in NY. Here are the answers to two commonly asked questions: 

I’ve graduated with a doctoral degree in physical therapy. How should I sign my name? 

Education Law, Article 136 - Physical Therapy and Physical Therapist Assistants, Section 6732 Practice of physical therapy and the use of the title "physical therapist" states, Only a person licensed or otherwise authorized under this article shall practice physical therapy or use the title "physical therapist", "physiotherapist" or "mechanotherapist" or the abbreviation of "PT" in connection with his or her name or with any trade name in the conduct of his profession.

Under the Rules of the Board of Regents Part 29 - Unprofessional Conduct, Section 29.2 General provisions for health professions. (a) Unprofessional conduct shall also include...(4) using the word "Doctor" in offering to perform professional services without also indicating the profession in which the licensee holds a doctorate...

The licensure title PT is different from the academic credential of DPT. Only the use of the abbreviation "PT" is protected in law, which means that only a licensed physical therapist can use these initials. At this time, the initials "DPT" have no similar protection. The main concern for the licensee is that the profession in which the licensee holds a doctorate be indicated in some way. Therefore, licensed persons can use the term doctor or put their academic credentials after their name, along with the licensure abbreviation. (NYS Board for Physical Therapy 1/5/05)

APTA offers us some guidance as to the order of credentials after your name.

The preferred order is:

1. PT or PTA.
2. Highest earned physical therapy – related degree.
3. Other earned academic degree(s).
4. Specialist certification credentials in alphabetical order (specific to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties).
5. Other credentials external to APTA.
6. Other certification or professional honors (eg, FAPTA).
(HOD 06-03017014)

C:I’m a student in a physical therapy program. How should I sign my name?

A: NYS does not recognize any student abbreviations after your name. Although APTA supports the use of SPT or SPTA, our practice act does not recognize the use of these initials. Therefore when signing a note, the NY State Board for Physical Therapy recommends signing your name followed by Student PT or Student PTA.

Professional Conduct 

Q: How long must a PT retain a patient's medical records?

A: According to the Rules of the Board of Regents in the State of New York, unprofessional conduct shall include "Failing to maintain a record for each patient that accurately reflects the evaluation and treatment of the patient. Unless otherwise provided by law, all patient records must be retained for at least six years. Obstetrical records and records of minor patients must be retained for at least six years, and until one year after the minor patient reaches the age of 21 years."

For more information about professional misconduct in physical therapy please visit the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions, Rules of the Board of Regents.

Q: What is the law regarding a PT who wishes to end his/her employment at a particular health care facility?

A: According to the Rules of the Board of Regents in the State of New York, "Abandoning or neglecting a patient or client under and in need of immediate professional care, without making reasonable arrangements for the continuation of such care, or abandoning a professional employment by a group practice, hospital, clinic or other health care facility, without reasonable notice and under circumstances which seriously impair the delivery of professional care to patients or clients."

For more information about professional misconduct in physical therapy please visit the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions, Rules of the Board of Regents.

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