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At the completion of this chapter, the reader will be able to:

  1. Discuss the differences between values and beliefs

  2. List some of the most common negative biases of healthcare workers

  3. Provide some examples of nonverbal communication

  4. Define empathy

  5. Discuss the importance of health equity and cultural competency among healthcare providers

  6. Describe what health disparity is

  7. List the five steps to achieving cultural competence

  8. Discuss the importance of infection control in healthcare

  9. Describe some of the microorganisms that can be encountered in healthcare and their various modes of transmission

  10. List some of the precautions that must be used with special populations


Patient care is a partnership between a patient and the clinician—it is something a clinician does with a patient, not to a patient. The primary focus of patient care is to enhance a patient’s function through positive interactions, with each interaction having an objective. In some cases, this involves helping a patient regain former skills, whereas in other cases, it may involve teaching the patient ways to compensate for the loss of a physical or mental attribute. Generally speaking, most interventions involve increasing either a patient’s mobility or a patient’s stability. Determining what the focus or objective will require clinical decision making and preparation.


Essential for the preparation for patient care is the knowledge of a number of general principles, so that patient and clinician safety is ensured. For example, having to leave a patient unguarded to retrieve a piece of equipment must be avoided at all times. All equipment is required to be inspected before use. In the event that a piece of equipment is found to be malfunctioning, correct procedures must be followed. This typically involves labeling the piece of equipment as defective and reporting the defect to the appropriate personnel, such as the clinical engineering department.


In many physical therapy settings, a physical therapist does not work in isolation. Often, a healthcare team made up of many different professions plays a role in reviewing a patient’s condition and making decisions (see Chapter 1). This patient-centered interprofessional collaboration, which is more common outside the outpatient work areas, serves to enhance problem-solving and the coordination of care. In most cases, team conferences involving members from each of the disciplines (nursing, social services, etc.) are held on the patient’s behalf. In addition to these discussion meetings, it is not unusual for fellow professionals to co-treat a patient. For example, a patient who has undergone hip replacement is often co-treated by a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. The advantage of a co-treatment is that it reduces duplication of treatments, enhances input from different professionals, and often results in interventions for complex problems that exceed what an individual could accomplish. Another example of co-treatment occurs when a physical therapist and a physical therapist ...

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