Like most other medical professionals in Canada, you probably worked most of your life to acquire a license to practice as a physiotherapist. It would likely be unsettling to have to cope with allegations of unethical actions or misconduct. You might have much more to lose than others in non-professional occupations in the event of a conviction for a criminal charge or a misconduct violation.
Every complaint is serious, even those without any merit. Taking the wrong step at this time can have a severe impact on your career. As a licensed professional, you must adhere to exceptionally high standards of care to your patients, and regulatory bodies typically monitor those standards and investigate any allegations of professional misconduct.
Fees and billing standards
A comprehensive knowledge of the fees and billing rules and standards set by authorities for practicing physiotherapists in Canada may help you to avoid having to face accusations of misconduct. One of the most critical issues is to be aware of any use of your registration number and your name as you will be accountable for any account, billing or fees charged under your name.
Honesty and accuracy
While no charges or fees may be misleading, inaccurate or false, you must have a scheduled review procedure to show that the billings and accounts are accurate and that you took reasonable steps to rectify any errors or inaccuracies. Furthermore, you must document your findings and the action you took along with the outcome.
Written schedule of fees
Patients must have access to a written schedule that shows all potential charges — which must be reasonable. The only deviation allowed for the listed fees may be reductions in the amounts charged. The schedule must indicate the following fees:
- Assessment, treatment and reassessment fees
- Additional products or service fees
- Completing forms, photocopying and other administrative fees
- Penalties or interest for late payments
- Cancellation charges or fees for missed appointments
Informing patients of the applicable fees
Before proceeding with any physiotherapy, you must ensure that each patient understands the fee structure and knows that any refunds will receive immediate attention. You must clearly explain the following to avoid the potential of facing accusations of wrongdoing:
- Potential fees for the planned treatment
- The calculation method for preparing bills
- Your expectations related to the payments from the patient
- Penalties for late payments
- Available payment methods
- The availability of itemized billing if requested — at no extra charge
The only allowed circumstances for service packages such as block fees include those in which the patient has full knowledge of the following:
- The total cost
- The cost of each included service indicated on the bill
- The option to purchase single services
- The availability of refunds for services not used
If the patient is on a payment plan, these restrictions will not apply.
You need not face the allegations alone
Authorities typically investigate any allegations of professional misconduct in Canada, regardless of the merit of the complaints. For this reason, physiotherapists and other professionals who face these situations typically choose to enlist the services of an experienced lawyer who can ensure your rights are protected and develop a defence strategy that focuses on obtaining the best possible outcome.