Thinking about risk is best practice

blocks spelling indemnity

Thinking about risk is best practice

blocks spelling indemnity

Professional indemnity insurance is not an appealing topic of conversation.

And yet talk about it we must in light of the changes in the insurance landscape over the past few years.

Global instability and the fast-paced world of commerce are contributing to unprecedented volatility in the insurance market.

Geopolitical uncertainty brought about by wars and energy crises, alongside factors such as climate change and increasingly common natural disasters, has an arguably larger impact on this market than on any other.

Adding to this uncertainty are changes in consumer expectations and behaviour.

The recent Me Too movement encouraged more open conversations about sexual misconduct and helped reduce barriers to reporting crimes and bad behaviour.

These are developments that a civilised society welcomes and embraces.

It also means that reporting sexual misconduct and boundary violations by physiotherapists is more common now than before.

My hunch is that the behaviour of physiotherapists has not changed drastically over the years but that clients are more open to and educated about the recourse avenues available to them.

Ahpra recently reported that there has been a marked increase in notifications of boundary violations by physiotherapists in the last reporting period.

This jump is mirrored in other professions, including medicine, nursing and dentistry.

Since 2016, there has been a threefold increase in boundary-related notifications across all Ahpra-registered professions.

Our advice to members is to keep abreast of best practice.

The APA’s National Professional Standards Panel publishes useful guidance and advice on maintaining appropriate relationships and avoiding boundary crossings.

What members may not realise is that notifications often arise from seemingly innocuous situations that go wrong.

Informed consent is another issue in the spotlight.

The value and importance of open and precise communication with clients cannot be overemphasised.

Make sure you understand best practice, implement systems to ensure compliance and monitor them regularly.

Changes in the medico-legal landscape have seen a substantial increase in claims against entities.

Put simply when an adverse event occurs, such as pneumothorax caused by dry needling, the claimant’s legal team will likely advise that the entity (or business) be named in the claim.

Our strongest advice is that practice principals and owners should ensure they have adequate entity cover, which goes beyond regular business insurance.

Insurance houses are seeing increases in the frequency and quantum of insurance settlements.

They are mitigating their exposure through a number of avenues.

There will be a stronger focus on a clinician’s scope of practice, with likely rejections of claims where there is evidence that the clinician was working outside of their scope.

One of the factors that determine whether a treatment can be deemed within scope is the education and professional development undertaken by the clinician in that area.

In the case of dry needling, for example, a clinician should have completed courses beyond their undergraduate degree to ensure that their practice is scope-appropriate.

The APA has a useful resource on determining your scope of practice, available on our website.

Insurers are also increasing their premiums quite significantly every year.

Last year, the APA absorbed a 23 per cent increase in member insurance premiums, choosing not to pass it on to our members in this economically difficult climate.

The APA’s collective buying power means we can source the best insurance program at minimal cost to our members.

Although it’s not something people want to think about, insurance and risk are significant parts of modern-day physiotherapy practice.

It’s more important than ever to engage with these issues, discuss them and plan for the future.

>> Anja Nikolic APA Chief Executive Officer

To contact Anja, email


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