Common Reasons for Disciplinary Actions Against Physical Therapists

Texas physical therapists are subject to the Executive Council of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Examiners (ECPTOTE) oversight. This agency not only licenses physical therapists but regulates them to ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. Under Texas law, ECPTOTE has the authority to discipline licensed physical therapists who violate these laws, which can lead to serious consequences. 

If you are facing a complaint or disciplinary proceedings before ECPTOTE, your first call should be to an experienced physical therapist license defense lawyer. You need legal counsel to help protect your rights, safeguard your license, and allow you to continue working in your field. Together, you can fight back against the allegations you are facing and work to resolve your case with as minimal impact on your career and reputation as possible.  

Grounds for Disciplinary Action Against Physical Therapists

Practicing Physical Therapy in a Manner Detrimental to Public Health and Welfare

One major basis for disciplinary action against licensed physical therapists is practicing physical therapy in a manner that is detrimental to public health and welfare. 22 Tex. Admin. Code §322.4 defines practice that is detrimental to public health and welfare as including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Failing to document physical therapy services, inaccurately recording, falsifying, or altering patient/client records;
  • Obtaining or attempting to obtain or deliver medications through means of misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, and/or subterfuge;
  • Failing to supervise and maintain the supervision of supportive personnel, licensed or unlicensed, in compliance with the Act and rule requirements;
  • Aiding, abetting, authorizing, condoning, or allowing the practice of physical therapy by any person not licensed to practice physical therapy;
  • Permitting another person to use an individual’s physical therapist’s or physical therapist assistant’s license for any purpose;
  • Failing to cooperate with the agency by not responding to agency correspondence addressed to the license holder’s official address within 90 days, by not furnishing papers or documents requested, or by not responding to subpoenas issued by the agency;
  • Failing to complete the requirements of an agreed order;
  • Interfering with an investigation or disciplinary proceeding by willful misrepresentation of facts before the agency or the board or by the use of threats or harassment against any patient/client or witness to prevent them from providing evidence in a disciplinary proceeding or any other legal action;
  • Engaging in sexual contact with a patient/client as the result of the patient/client relationship;
  • Practicing or having practiced with an expired temporary or permanent license;
  • Failing to conform to the minimal standards of acceptable prevailing practice, regardless of whether or not actual injury to any person was sustained, including, but not limited to:
  • failing to assess and evaluate a patient’s/client’s status;
  • performing or attempting to perform techniques or procedures or both in which the physical therapist or physical therapist assistant is untrained by education or experience;
  • delegating physical therapy functions or responsibilities to an individual lacking the ability or knowledge to perform the function or responsibility in question; or
  • causing, permitting, or allowing physical or emotional injury or impairment of dignity or safety to the patient/client;
  • intentionally or knowingly offering to pay or agreeing to accept any remuneration directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, to or from any person, firm, association of persons, partnership, or corporation for receiving or soliciting patients or patronage, regardless of source of reimbursement, unless said business arrangement or payments practice is acceptable under 42 United States Code §1320a-7b(b) or its regulations;
  • Advertising in a manner which is false, misleading, or deceptive;
  • Knowingly falsifying and/or forging a referring practitioner’s referral for physical therapy;
  • Failing to notify the board of any conduct by another licensee which reasonably appears to be a violation of the Practice Act and rules, or aids or causes another person, directly or indirectly, to violate the Practice Act or rules of the board;
  • Abandoning or neglecting a patient under current care without making reasonable arrangements for the continuation of such care;
  • Failing to maintain the confidentiality of all verbal, written, electronic, augmentative, and nonverbal communication, including compliance with HIPAA regulations; and

Violating the rules of the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact if holding a Compact privilege to practice in Texas.

History of Substance Abuse

Under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §343.5, ECPTOTE can discipline a licensee who used drugs or alcohol to the extent that it affects the individual’s professional competence. In assessing the individual’s professional competence, the Board must consider the degree of sobriety that the individual has obtained, documentation of the individual’s completion of any drug or alcohol rehabilitation program, participation in a board-approved aftercare program, current status reports from a rehabilitation program or boar-approved aftercare program, and letters of recommendation. 

Gross Negligence in the Practice of Physical Therapy

22 Tex. Admin. Code §343.7 provides that ECPTOTE may discipline a licensee who practices with gross negligence. Gross negligence “may include, but is not limited to, the provision of physical therapy which the therapist knew or should have known would result in severe physical injury or death of a patient.” 

Criminal Convictions

ECPTOTE may revoke or suspend a physical therapist license under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §343.9 if the individual has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense that directly relates to the practice of physical therapy. This section contains a list of specific criminal offenses that ECPTOTE considers to directly relate to the practice of physical therapy, but the list is not exhaustive. 

In considering whether a crime not listed in this section relates to the practice of physical therapy, ECPTOTE will consider the following factors:

  • The nature and seriousness of the crime;
  • The relationship of the crime to the purposes for requiring a license to practice physical therapy;
  • The extent to which a license might offer opportunities to engage in further criminal activity of the same type as that in which the person was previously engaged;
  • The relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, or fitness required to perform the duties and to discharge the responsibilities of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant; and
  • Any correlation between the elements of the crime and the duties and responsibilities of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant.

Furthermore, if ECPTOTE determines that a licensee has been convicted of a crime that relates to the practice of physical therapy, it will consider the following factors to assess the licensee’s current fitness to practice physical therapy:

  • The extent and nature of the person’s past criminal activity;
  • The age of the person at the time of commission of the crime;
  • The amount of time that has elapsed since the person’s last criminal activity;
  • The conduct and work activity of the person before and after the criminal activity;
  • Evidence of the person’s rehabilitation or rehabilitative effort while incarcerated or after release;
  • Evidence of the person’s compliance with any condition of community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision, including letters of recommendation from prosecution, law enforcement, and correctional officers who prosecuted, arrested, or had custodial responsibility for the person; letters from the sheriff or chief of police where the person resides; and other persons having contact with the convicted person; and
  • Other evidence of the person’s fitness, including letters of recommendation, records of steady employment, provision for dependents, payment of all court costs, supervision fees, fines, and restitution if ordered as a result of the person’s conviction.

Miscellaneous Grounds for Discipline 

Other grounds for discipline of physical therapists under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §343.6 include the following:

  • Attempting to obtain or obtaining a license by fraud, falsification, or deception of an application or examination procedure; or
  • Having a license to practice physical therapy or a license to practice another health care profession revoked or suspended or had other disciplinary action taken against him or had his application for license refused, revoked, or suspended by the proper licensing authority of another state, territory, or nation;
  • Failing to meet the qualifications for licensure as outlined in the Act, §453.203, as applicable, and/or to any other rules or procedures set forth by the board relating to these sections; or
  • Cheating on the national examination.

Count on Bertolino LLP to Defend Your Physical Therapist License from Disciplinary Action

Don’t allow a complaint to derail your career needlessly. When you are facing disciplinary proceedings, you need a seasoned physical therapist license defense attorney on your side. We will defend you against the allegations against you and work to clear your name. Contact the lawyers of Bertolino LLP today by calling (512) 515-9518 or visiting us online

Call or text (512) 476-5757 or complete a Case Evaluation form