Patient is Permanently Injured by Soft Tissue Stimulation Device

    Physical Therapy Expert WitnessThis case takes place in California and involves a male patient in is mid-twenties who experiences recurrent heart issues after receiving treatment from a physical therapist. The patient was being treated for a chest injury with the defending physical therapist at the time of the initial incident. The PT was using a soft tissue mobilization system with electrodes placed around the patient’s chest in an attempt to treat his injury. The PT momentarily left the room on one occasion while this therapy was being administered, and the patient started to have racing of the heart and palpitations. Since the incident, the patient suffers from constant anxiety and heart issues. He has sought out treatment from a number of specialists, and he has had extensive treatment, tried multiple drugs, and consumes zero stimulants, all of which has had no effect on his mental and physical symptoms.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please discuss your background in treating similar patients as described in the case summary.
    • 2. Do you have experience in using the treatment described in the case summary?

    Expert Witness Response E-007915

    As a sports specialist treating orthopedic patients, I often treat chest pain. I am familiar with and use the treatment system described in this case on a weekly basis; however, I use it primarily for pre-mod and interferential treatment. I have used this system for stimulation in the past, but only after surgery. The unit that I am familiar with offers multiple options on type of electrical stimulation (pre-mod, INF, Russian, biphasic, etc); all which have different outcomes in mind (pain, swelling, muscle activation, etc). A standard unit does not have these options and is used primarily for pain management. Electrodes should not be placed at the points specified on the patient’s chest, and the physical therapist should never leave the room while this type of therapy is administered. As a licensed physical therapist, I routinely treat patients with chest pain. I teach in an entry-level program and am a Clinical Instructor for our entry-level students in the clinic where we address modalities and indications/ contraindications/precautions.

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