Skip to main content

Should a physical therapist tell a patient that she is terminally ill?

Physical therapists (PTs) can and do play important roles in hospice and palliative care for patients with terminal illness. Do they have ethical obligations, however, to patients who are of sound mind and unaware of their diagnosis? Consider this scenario.

Rights and Possible Wrongs

Lynn is a PT in the outpatient department at Sunny Dunes, a well-regarded "continuum-of-life" complex for senior citizens that is located in a state with unrestricted patient access to physical therapist services. When she started working there 6 years ago and met Bertha, a longtime widow, for the first time, Bertha was 78, living in her own apartment on the grounds, still driving, managing all of her own affairs, and such a bundle of energy and enthusiasm that Lynn often described her occasional patient and new friend to others as "a force of nature" whose vitality belied her age.

Log in or create a free account to keep reading.


Join APTA to get unlimited access to content.


You Might Also Like...

Column

Informed Consent: What PTs Need To Know

Apr 1, 2021

Understand your legal obligations to your patients.

Column

A Costly Loan

Dec 1, 2020

Unilateral action, a dual relationship, and unintended consequences.

Column

The Problem With "Innocent" Meals

Nov 1, 2020

When a situation feels wrong, in all likelihood it is.