Duty of care

It is your legal duty as a physiotherapist, support worker or student to provide a ‘reasonable’ standard of care to patients and to protect their safety.

You must understand the duty of care that you and your organisation owe.

A duty of care exists when it could reasonably be expected that a person’s actions, or failure to act, might cause injury to another person.

It is also important to understand how this links to other aspects of professionalism, such as raising concerns when necessary and your duty to report..

Your personal duty of care

  • You must provide a ‘reasonable’ standard of care based on your skills, job role and responsibilities.
  • Your duty of care is created as soon as a referral is deemed suitable and is accepted for advice and/or treatment.

Your organisation’s duty of care

  • Your organisation has a duty of care for the services it provides and the staff it employs.
  • Challenges to duty of care may arise if, for example, services are rationed or resources are scarce. 
  • If worried that your workplace risks duty of care to patients, you must raise concerns and do so in an appropriate way.

Fulfilling your duty of care as a qualified physiotherapist

  • Comply with regulator and professional standards.
  • Ensure personal practice is of a reasonable standard.
  • Communicate promptly any issues limiting duty of care.
  • Work safely and effectively with others.
  • Work within employer requirements.
  • Maintain confidentiality.