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August 2017


successful and surgical intervention

may still be required; and that, as the

patient, they have every right to seek

such intervention any time, irrespective

of the physiotherapy treatment


you should also agree key timelines

for review and clearly quantify

and document any improvement

or deterioration of the condition,

preferably through the use of validated


at any time, you may need to make

the call to refer the patient back to

the doctor (if no improvement is

being made or if you believe that

physiotherapy treatment will not assist,

don’t continue with the treatment—

refer the patient back to the treating


Again, the above should all be clearly

documented. Be aware that, while receiving

a referral is very good, you may not be the

person who can provide the appropriate

solution. It may be that specialist

intervention is required or it may be that

a physiotherapist with more experience is

better placed to assist with the patient.

The key with both scenarios is, irrespective

of the referral, the way that you:

communicate with both the patient

and other parties

inform the patient as to the risks


document the treatment provided

clearly identify options and timelines

for review

Following these steps will assist in

protecting you from any adverse outcome

and, potentially, any claim or inquiry as a

result of your professional conduct as a

physiotherapist. If you understand your

limitations, you will protect not only your

reputation but contribute to the overall

standing of the physiotherapy profession.