Ethics in physical therapy, from the perspective of a patient, is hard to recognize. There are a multitude of rules provided by the code of ethics established by the American Physical Therapy Association, or the APTA, and every type of physical therapy, whether it be inpatient, outpatient, acute, chronic, home-health, etc. is required to fulfill their ethical duties. 

Many of the guidelines are only recognizable from an employee perspective, but there definitely are aspects that patients may notice, as well. Rules and regulations may vary by state from a legality perspective, but from a licensing perspective, the APTA is law. Your health insurance also has some say in what is/is not allowed, as far as who you receive your treatment from. Talk to your physical therapist for more information. If you do not like who you work with, please tell your physical therapist so the issue can be resolved and you, more satisfied with your care.

For example, in the state of Kansas, if patients are working with a technician or a student, the supervising physical therapist must be within line of sight at all times (aside from reasonable deterrents, such as using the restroom). In an instance where the physical therapist leaves the room for longer than necessary (5-10 minutes, use judgement), that time was not directly supervised. 

Situations such as this have never happened here at CHAMPION, but many of our staff members have been employed at various locations elsewhere that were not as adamant about following this rule. 


The APTA is accessible by anyone.

1. Take the opportunity to address the situation with someone at the clinic you're receiving treatment at that you trust, to see if the issue can be resolved.

2. In situations you do not feel comfortable speaking directly to a staff member, seek out the top dog to discuss problems you may have.

3. In extreme situations, it is an option for you to report problems with your treating therapist to the APTA. If the treating therapist is a student who is not being supervised efficiently by a clinical instructor (a licensed therapist at that clinic) you can contact their school or clinical advising team. 

Please visit the APTA website for more information.