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Judge, Internets! Judge!

What would you think if you got a letter from a former physical therapist that reads, in part: “I am writing to all past and present patients to introduce you to a good opportunity… If you have been considering investments … I recommend you call Joe Smith at Plorgan Smanley. I am enclosing his card. He is offering a free 30-minute consultation. He’s very knowledgeable… most importantly, you can trust him.”

Would you think, “Oh, how helpful of you, former physical therapist! I had not previously considered these 'investments' you speak of, but now that you tell me I can trust this person, I want to give him all of my hard-earned cash!” Or would you think, “Holy Jesus, that’s icky”?

As you may have guessed, this Actually Happened to Me. Can you believe it? My life, it is one of high drama.

Is it just me, or is this not something a medical professional should do? Isn't this one step above or below or to the left of selling your patient list? What the hell could have been her motivation? I have a hard time believing that out of the goodness of her heart, this therapist felt compelled to send letters to every one of her "past and present patients." Actually, I don't know if this makes this worse or better, but I seem to remember her gabbing about her husband, and the first name of this financial advisor sounds awfully ... familiar.

I’m not sure if I’m overreacting, because I have been, shall we say, unhappy with this former p.t. of mine. Because she took lots and lots of my money, while assuring me that I had a pain syndrome that would never go away, ever ever ever. Because she actively, vehemently discouraged me from seeing the one professional whose treatment actually offered some relief. And, oh! Because, when I was fully cured, she assured me that in fact I was not, and then refused to speak to my other therapist about my case, because what worked for me would mean that she would, in effect, have patients healing faster, and thus less work for her.

So, yeah, I don’t like her.

That said, who out there can offer their opinion on this letter? I bet you can. Don’t hold back. Is this unethical? Unseemly? Or am I unhinged?

Reader Comments (54)

why, you're batshit loco, you are. I mean, who better to advise one on the choice of a financial advisor than someone intimately familiar with my musculoskeletal peccadillos? And who are you to cast your cynical, jaded eye upon her robust altruistic efforts? Dude, didn't she actually pay the postage on that letter? I hope you're ashamed of yourself. You don't deserve to watch your assets triple within the next five years. Pharisee.
June 7, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterjilbur
You don't understand. She's was just thinking of you--it's all for you. develops the soul. And now she wants you to be poor, too. You'll never get into heaven with that extra money you have lying around or so comfortable and pain free. But you, you want to be healed! And financially solvent!

(Actually, I'm pretty sure you can't get PTs in trouble for unethical behavior unless they groped or something. Spamming hasn't made the ethics rules of even the AMA yet, I'll bet.)
June 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMiel
Oh good god. I'm a massage therapist (down upon whom so many PTs like to look), and I can tell you that of course your instincts are right. Stop yapping about your personal life, stop pretending you're a doc, stop offering doomsday predictions, and for god's sake don't overstep your scope of practice with tacky financial advertising! Sometimes I just have to shake my head. Sheesh, next thing you know she'll be trying to get you in on her blue-green-algae pyramid scheme.
June 7, 2005 | Unregistered Commentergoodsandwich
Unethical, unseemly, tacky, all of the above. Just more reasons for you not to see her ever again. Just...icky. Not okay.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterchasmyn
One postal response, four words(well, three, but one's hyphenated).

June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKal
GRUESOMELY UNETHICAL.......Now, if only she could give you the name of a good lawyer so you could sue her ass off.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterUma Andersson
Definately snarky and ooky. And now, I must shower for a long, long time.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterPirate Wench
She must get a kickback. She's like Dr. Pimp or something.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEm
Ewwwww! Something definitely smells. Is that kind of solicitation even legal?
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkarla
At the very least that is beyond tacky. At the worst, may be a violation of her professinal ethics. I'd report it to higher-ups
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl

as a lawyer...

I have no idea.

But it is sketchy sketchy sketchy. You should call her up and thank her profusely and tell her that you were saving money for Henry's education, but now thanks to her fabulous trip you are going to take all that money and give it to whats-his-face instead.

And then say thanks! And Henry thanks you too!
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterhalloweenlover
No, I think she is engaging in a perfectly reasonable business practice, and should be recommended for her stellar sense of altruism. She is obviously just thinking about YOU...

And if you believe that one, I've got a mighty fine bridge I would like to sell you - in fact, I think it is right around your neighborhood, right?
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAfricableu
omg. it's snail mail SPAM! how annoying!! you should mail her back...enclosing the business card of a better therapist SHE may want to try out.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermillenniumhippies
i don't think it is techinically unethical... she is a physical therapist after all, and we all know that's a short hop from serial killer. however, if she works for an instituion i would pass this little info on to them as it leaves a sour taste in my mouth, and i didn't even receive the damned letter.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermathew
ooo ick yes, unethical and tacky and just plain blechy.

i would report her to all authorities available to you and drag her name thru the mud because it's not even like she's a good physical therapist. she's a sucky physical therapist. who didn't want you to get better and now this. this terrible business.

ick, she's icky.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterhonestyrain
Um, you may want to check into the HIPAA guidlines and report her.

It is not okay for her to do this. It violates HIPAA

Open the link, scroll down and click on: Fact Sheet: Your Health Information Privacy Rights

Read the last paragraph.

Big 'oops' on her part.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterjody2ms
I have an opinion. This is highly unprofessional and she should receive some proper scolding from a professional's scolding committee. I'm not sure what committee this would be. Surely the state of New York and whomever else licenses this p.t. would like to know she's mixing healthcare with potential non-healthcare commissions.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAlishia Hanson
Whoa. That was completely inappropriate. Up to you to how you want to handle it, but I think a letter to the authorities in your state might be in order.

June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterHer Ladyship
I don't imagine the "advisor's" employer would be too pleased about it either. Especially a big firm that spends millions on image.

Now MY little investment firm...we'd be all over advertising like that. What's the woman's address? ;-)
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRobert
Ask her for her home address/phone number and then post it on the internet. When she gets all bulgy-eyed over it, grin real big and just tell her you wanted to help her get some new clients.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterWindyLou
It seems that this would be illegal because a doctor/patient relationship is confidential. I thought that a doctor couldnt reveal whether or not you have been his or her patient unless you signed a release.What if this had been your Gonorrhea specialist or something? Huh?
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterKate
Unless you signed a waiver to share you medical info in this manner...this is plain illegal. The very least you should do is write her a letter explaining your revulsion at her lack of professionalism. And you could always include an attachment...I liked the soiled diaper idea...tit for tat as they say.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkiersti
Wow. that's pretty fucking wrong.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterTorrie
Delurking to say that as a former healthcare professional, HIPAA might apply, but only if the PT if a covered provider. That means she must bill insurers electronically, and not all providers do. As to whether it's a violation, that is somewhat gray because the PT could argue she didn't really share any info with a third party, since she wrote the repulsive letter herself.

But no question it was unethical. I would send a letter of complaint to whichever Board licenses PTs in NY, as well as a HIPAA complaint letter.
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria
Uh, yeah. I vote for "Holy Jesus, that's icky."

Of course, I have no knowledge of the financial world (as I have no funds with which to invest) so I could be wrong. For all I know millions of people look to their physical therapist to find a financial advisor. Or not...

I say report her to all the agencies you can think of and get her distherapied...or disbarred....or disenfranchised....something.

angie :-)
June 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

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