Occupational Therapy Licensing Board

AOTA CODE OF ETHICS (2015)

 

The seven Core Values provide a foundation to guide occupational therapy personnel in their interactions with others. Although the Core Values are not themselves enforceable standards, they should be considered when determining the most ethical course of action.
Principles and Standards of Conduct
The Principles and Standards of Conduct that are enforceable for professional behavior include (1) Beneficence, (2) Nonmaleficence, (3) Autonomy, (4) Justice, (5) Veracity, and (6) Fidelity. Reflection on the historical foundations of occupational therapy and related professions resulted in the inclusion of Principles that are consistently referenced as a guideline for ethical decision making.
 
Beneficence
Principle 1. Occupational therapy personnel shall demonstrate a concern for the well-being and safety of the recipients of their services.

 

Related Standards of Conduct
Occupational therapy personnel shall
A. Provide appropriate evaluation and a plan of intervention for recipients of occupational therapy services specific to their needs.
B. Reevaluate and reassess recipients of service in a timely manner to determine whether goals are being achieved and whether intervention plans should be revised.
C. Use, to the extent possible, evaluation, planning, intervention techniques, assessments, and therapeutic equipment that are evidence based, current, and within the recognized scope of occupational therapy practice.
D. Ensure that all duties delegated to other occupational therapy personnel are congruent with credentials, qualifications, experience, competency, and scope of practice with respect to service delivery, supervision, fieldwork education, and research.
E. Provide occupational therapy services, including education and training, that are within each practitioner’s level of competence and scope of practice.
F. Take steps (e.g., continuing education, research, supervision, training) to ensure proficiency, use careful judgment, and weigh potential for harm when generally recognized standards do not exist in emerging technology or areas of practice.
G. Maintain competency by ongoing participation in education relevant to one’s practice area.
H. Terminate occupational therapy services in collaboration with the service recipient or responsible party when the services are no longer beneficial.
I. Refer to other providers when indicated by the needs of the client.
J. Conduct and disseminate research in accordance with currently accepted ethical guidelines and standards for the protection of research participants, including determination of potential risks and benefits.
 
Nonmaleficence
Principle 2. Occupational therapy personnel shall refrain from actions that cause harm.

 

Occupational therapy personnel shall

A. Avoid inflicting harm or injury to recipients of occupational therapy services, students, research participants, or employees.
B. Avoid abandoning the service recipient by facilitating appropriate transitions when unable to provide services for any reason.
C. Recognize and take appropriate action to remedy personal problems and limitations that might cause harm to recipients of service, colleagues, students, research participants, or others.
D. Avoid any undue influences that may impair practice and compromise the ability to safely and competently provide occupational therapy services, education, or research.
E. Address impaired practice and when necessary report to the appropriate authorities.
F. Avoid dual relationships, conflicts of interest, and situations in which a practitioner, educator, student, researcher, or employer is unable to maintain clear professional boundaries or objectivity.
G. Avoid engaging in sexual activity with a recipient of service, including the client’s family or significant other, student, research participant, or employee, while a professional relationship exists.
H. Avoid compromising rights or well-being of others based on arbitrary directives (e.g., unrealistic productivity expectations, falsification of documentation, inaccurate coding) by exercising professional judgment and critical analysis.
I. Avoid exploiting any relationship established as an occupational therapy clinician, educator, or researcher to further one’s own physical, emotional, financial, political, or business interests at the expense of recipients of services, students, research participants, employees, or colleagues.
J. Avoid bartering for services when there is the potential for exploitation and conflict of interest.
 
Autonomy
Principle 3. Occupational therapy personnel shall respect the right of the individual to self-determination, privacy, confidentiality, and consent.

 

Related Standards of Conduct
Occupational therapy personnel shall
A. Respect and honor the expressed wishes of recipients of service.
B. Fully disclose the benefits, risks, and potential outcomes of any intervention; the personnel who will be providing the intervention; and any reasonable alternatives to the proposed intervention.
C. Obtain consent after disclosing appropriate information and answering any questions posed by the recipient of service or research participant to ensure voluntariness.
D. Establish a collaborative relationship with recipients of service and relevant stakeholders, to promote shared decision making.
E. Respect the client’s right to refuse occupational therapy services temporarily or permanently, even when that refusal has potential to result in poor outcomes.
F. Refrain from threatening, coercing, or deceiving clients to promote compliance with occupational therapy recommendations.
G. Respect a research participant’s right to withdraw from a research study without penalty.
H. Maintain the confidentiality of all verbal, written, electronic, augmentative, and nonverbal communications, in compliance with applicable laws, including all aspects of privacy laws and exceptions thereto (e.g., Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
I. Display responsible conduct and discretion when engaging in social networking, including but not limited to refraining from posting protected health information.
J. Facilitate comprehension and address barriers to communication (e.g., aphasia; differences in language, literacy, culture) with the recipient of service (or responsible party), student, or research participant.
 
Justice
Principle 4. Occupational therapy personnel shall promote fairness and objectivity in the provision of occupational therapy services.

 

Occupational therapy personnel shall
A. Respond to requests for occupational therapy services (e.g., a referral) in a timely manner as determined by law, regulation, or policy.
B. Assist those in need of occupational therapy services to secure access through available means.
C. Address barriers in access to occupational therapy services by offering or referring clients to financial aid, charity care, or pro bono services within the parameters of organizational policies.
D. Advocate for changes to systems and policies that are discriminatory or unfairly limit or prevent access to occupational therapy services.
E. Maintain awareness of current laws and AOTA policies and Official Documents that apply to the profession of occupational therapy.
F. Inform employers, employees, colleagues, students, and researchers of applicable policies, laws, and Official Documents.
G. Hold requisite credentials for the occupational therapy services they provide in academic, research, physical, or virtual work settings.
H. Provide appropriate supervision in accordance with AOTA Official Documents and relevant laws, regulations, policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines.
I. Obtain all necessary approvals prior to initiating research activities.
J. Refrain from accepting gifts that would unduly influence the therapeutic relationship or have the potential to blur professional boundaries, and adhere to employer policies when offered gifts.
K. Report to appropriate authorities any acts in practice, education, and research that are unethical or illegal.
L. Collaborate with employers to formulate policies and procedures in compliance with legal, regulatory, and ethical standards and work to resolve any conflicts or inconsistencies.
M. Bill and collect fees legally and justly in a manner that is fair, reasonable, and commensurate with services delivered.
N. Ensure compliance with relevant laws and promote transparency when participating in a business arrangement as owner, stockholder, partner, or employee.
O. Ensure that documentation for reimbursement purposes is done in accordance with applicable laws, guidelines, and regulations.
P. Refrain from participating in any action resulting in unauthorized access to educational content or exams (including but not limited to sharing test questions, unauthorized use of or access to content or codes, or selling access or authorization codes).

 

Principle 5. Occupational therapy personnel shall provide comprehensive, accurate, and objective information when representing the profession.

 

Related Standards of Conduct
Occupational therapy personnel shall

 

J. Maintain privacy and truthfulness when utilizing telecommunication in delivery of occupational therapy services.
 
Fidelity
Principle 6. Occupational therapy personnel shall treat clients, colleagues, and other professionals with respect, fairness, discretion, and integrity.

 

Related Standards of Conduct
Occupational therapy personnel shall

 

I. Respect the practices, competencies, roles, and responsibilities of their own and other professions to promote a collaborative environment reflective of interprofessional teams.
J. Use conflict resolution and internal and alternative dispute resolution resources as needed to resolve organizational and interpersonal conflicts, as well as perceived institutional ethics violations.
K. Abide by policies, procedures, and protocols when serving or acting on behalf of a professional organization or employer to fully and accurately represent the organization’s official and authorized positions.
L. Refrain from actions that reduce the public’s trust in occupational therapy.
M. Self-identify when personal, cultural, or religious values preclude, or are anticipated to negatively affect, the professional relationship or provision of services, while adhering to organizational policies when requesting an exemption from service to an individual or group on the basis of conflict of conscience.​