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If you were to ask physical therapists (PTs) and/or physical therapist assistants (PTAs) which aspects of their job they find the most gratifying, most if not all likely would mention the connection they make with patients while helping them address and meet their goals.

But what are the ethical implications when a patient proposes extending that connection beyond the bounds of the typical provider-patient relationship? Consider the following scenario.

A Big Ask

Lou has been a PT at a rural hospital for the past 15 years. He especially likes his job's variety and the continuity that the hospital offers to those it serves. Lou typically sees current patients in the morning and discharged patients in their homes in the afternoon through the facility's home care program. Thus, it's not unusual for Lou to see a patient in the hospital's postsurgical unit, work with that person on his or her discharge plan, then follow up with that individual at his or her home the very next day.

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