Case Studies: Physical and Occupational Therapists

Occupational Therapist Preserves License Against Charges of Withholding Patient Records

The professional licensing division of a health department of a Central Midwest state served a license complaint and order to desist on an occupational therapist. The complaint alleged that the therapist was withholding patient medical records compromising their care. The order demanded that the therapist desist from withholding the records and instead promptly provide the records to another occupational therapy practice group. The occupational therapist was an independent contractor who had worked closely with and accepted frequent referrals from a metropolitan area's primary occupational therapy practice group. That primary OT practice group had closed after selling its practice to a larger regional OT practice group. The regional OT practice group subsequently demanded that the independent contractor therapist turn patient records over to the regional OT practice group. When the therapist refused because the patients were the therapist's own patients and not the patients of the seller or buyer practice groups, the regional practice group complained to the state licensing division. The therapist retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team. The Firm answered the licensing complaint with the client therapist's documentation of her practice's independent incorporation, her independent contractor status, and her primary relationship with the patients whose records the regional OT group had demanded. The licensing division dismissed the disciplinary charges after the Firm and client-therapist attended a preliminary conference to interpret the documentation. The client-therapist continued in practice uninterrupted.

Witness Cross-Examination Preserves Physical Therapist's License Against Sexual Assault Charges

The Board of physical therapy of a Northwest state issued a complaint against a physical therapist who served in a sports medicine program. The complaint alleged that the physical therapist had committed inappropriate sexual touching of two high school track athletes whom the therapist had treated following leg injuries. The complaint led the therapist's employer to immediately suspend the therapist from serving the sports medicine program, limiting the therapist to in-office sessions of medical rather than sports patients and causing a significant reduction in compensation and responsibilities. The therapist retained the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to respond to the charges, prepare for a hearing on the charges, and communicate with the therapist's employer. The Team's obtained the Board's statements and documentation related to the charges, learning that the charges stemmed from a coach's allegations. The two involved track athletes had given equivocal statements only arguably implicating sexual touching. The coach, not the athletes, had complained. The Team invoked the Board's formal hearing procedures. The Lento Law Firm Team's cross-examination of the two athletes led them to recant the sexual touching allegations. Cross-examination of the coach tended to show the coach had made the allegations to preserve the coaching job, not to protect the athletes. The hearing panel recommended the dismissal of the charges, which the Board approved. The therapist's employer reinstated the therapist to the sports medicine program, and the coach resigned.


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