It's a mean world out there, and as much as we want to always believe that our athletes and patients are so happy WE are caring for them, if their return to play or life doesn't go as they expected it to, we can easily become a victim of legal problems.
Kornblau and Starling, in "Ethics in Rehabilitation", remind us to “protect yourself” and list some steps we all should review:
- Put your licensure law on your desk and read it frequently: It’s easy to think we're always doing the right thing.
- Report ethical and legal violations to the licensure board: It's not "tattling" - It's protecting the integrity of our profession.
- Open your eyes: If it doesn't seem right it usually isn't.
- Follow the 4 "C's": Cover yourself with Contemporaneous, Complete and Comprehensive documentation. If it's not on paper it didn't happen.
- Keep your athletes interest above all else: Do the right thing.
- Understand the laws and rules that govern our world: JAHCO, Medicare and HIPPA give us important boundaries. Know them.
And finally, my personal advice: retain professional liability insurance. Your employer will protect you, but only if you do what you are legally allowed by your licensure and state laws. Nobody protects you like you.