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Back in 1935, the American Physiotherapy Association—the forerunner of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)—issued a code of ethics.1 It stated, in part:

Practicing Ethically

Diagnosing, stating the prognosis of a case and prescribing treatment shall be entirely the responsibility of the physician. Any assumption of this responsibility by one of our members shall be considered unethical.

Yes, the profession has come a long way in the intervening 83 years. And physical therapists (PTs) with expertise in ethics say that with health care rapidly changing, the profession must stay ahead of the curve when it comes to ethics.

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  1. The American Physiotherapy Association Code of Ethics and Discipline. Presented at the Fourteenth Annual Convention of the American Physiotherapy Association, Atlantic City, NJ. June 1935.
  2. Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist. American Physical Therapy Association. www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/Ethics/CodeofEthics.pdf. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  3. Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant. American Physical Therapy Association. www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/Ethics/StandardsEthicalConductPTA.pdf. Accessed February 11, 2018.

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