Physical Therapy Student Dislocates Patient’s Hip

Michael Talve, CEO

Written by
— Updated on October 2, 2017

This case involves an eighty-three-year-old female patient who underwent hip replacement surgery. Two months after the procedure, the patient was referred for physical therapy and, as a result, suffered a debilitation complication. During her first session, the physical therapist introduced the patient to a physical therapy student who was going to be in charge of her case. The physical therapist left the room and the PT student was unsupervised throughout the entire procedure. According to the patient, the PT student manipulated the afflicted leg in an aggressive manner until the patient heard a loud pop, followed by excruciating pain. As a result, the patient had to undergo a hip revision procedure.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Should the physical therapy student have been given the responsibility to manage this patient independent of supervision?

Expert Witness Response E-000326

They should absolutely not have been given this responsibility. The physical therapy student is a health care provider in training and should not be given autonomy in managing the rehabilitation of a patient that just underwent major reconstructive surgery. The student is not licensed to practice independent of supervision and this seems like a clear-cut case of malpractice by the physical therapy firm.

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