Physical Therapy Malpractice at Ohio Nursing Homes

Physical therapy abuse at Ohio nursing homesMost people are aware that doctors, nurses, and nursing homes can be sued for medical malpractice. Physical therapists (PTs) fall into this category, too.

Physical therapy is becoming more and more popular as an alternative treatment for nursing home residents. At the same time, the threat of abuse or neglect in while a nursing home resident undergoes physical therapy rises, as well.

Physical therapy is supposed to help improve a nursing home resident’s physical well-being. In skilled nursing facilities, injuries can occur during physical therapy session for any number of reasons, including the physical therapists unfamiliarity with the patients, inadequate supervision, broken equipment, etc.

When an injury to a nursing home patient occurs during a physical therapy session, you or your loved one may have a cause of action for medical malpractice or negligence. This will include any injury or death because of the negligent actions of the physical therapist, and includes actions that should not have been taken, as well as actions that should have been taken, but were not.

A physical therapist (PT) owes each patient the duty to fully investigate his or her signs and symptoms in order to diagnose and treat the patient properly. A court of law can hold a physical therapist responsible/liable for an error, omission, or negligent act that results in harm.

Some examples of physical therapist malpractice can include:

  • Dropping patients
  • Leaving patients unattended on equipment
  • Failure to supervise
  • Using broken equipment
  • Sexual assault
  • Over-extending joints
  • Failing to inform patients of risks

One recent study on physical therapy malpractice revealed that treatment-related events and events related to improper technique were the most common reasons for a malpractice report.

A successful negligence case against a physical therapist will require you to prove that the injured party:

  1. Was owed a duty from the physical therapist; that
  2. The physical therapist breached the standard of care; that
  3. This breach caused harm to the person; and
  4. There was actual harm or “damages” to that person.

If you or a loved one is a nursing home resident receiving physical therapy, it is important to understand the medical necessity of physical therapy and its associated risks. Also, be aware that your physical therapist must be licensed by the state to ensure that the person is qualified to perform physical therapy.

Many states, including Ohio, regulate physical therapists.  In Ohio, PT’s are regulated and licensed by the Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Athletic Trainers Board (found at According to their website, the board was established in 1976 as the Occupational Therapy Board. In 1977, regulation of physical therapy was transferred from the Medical Board to the Ohio Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Board. In 1990, licensure of athletic trainers was added to the responsibility of the Ohio OTPTAT Board.

The regulation of the three professions includes: issuing and renewing the licenses of properly qualified individuals; investigating complaints against licensees; monitoring compliance with mandatory continuing education requirements; and educating licensees and the consumers of the services provided by the board’s licensees on the laws and rules that govern the practice of occupational therapy, physical therapy, and athletic training in Ohio and the board’s role to promote and protect the health of the citizens of Ohio through effective regulation of these three professions.

Physical Therapists may also be covered individually by malpractice insurance to shield their personal assets and ensure that there are adequate funds to make amends for wrong-doing. A PLI policy covers errors, omissions, or negligent acts.

For elderly nursing home residents, these injuries can be even more dangerous because of their weak bones and underlying medical conditions. If you or a family member suffered an injury at the hands of a physical therapist, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of the negligence of a physical therapist at an Ohio nursing home, you have legal rights. Please contact us by calling 1-800-297-9191 for a FREE consultation with an experienced Ohio nursing home abuse attorney or send us a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.  Learn more about nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect in Ohio by visiting

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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