Member Extra (April 2013)

Avoiding Malpractice: Tips for Social Workers to Manage Risk

Client Relationships

The bad news: Errors and omissions in practice are common.

The good news: Many can easily be prevented.

Here are a few risk-reduction tips:

  • ADVISE clients of your policy regarding record retention and the circumstances under which the records will be released.
  • BE CLEAR with your client about the circumstances under which a relationship will be terminated (i.e. certain amount of no shows, nonpayment, etc.) and your process for termination.
  • DOCUMENT all no-shows, canceled appointments and terminated or incomplete sessions in your clients’ records.
  • KNOWLEDGE IS KEY when it comes to your state’s reporting requirements. Always start your client relationships with clear expectations regarding abuse reporting obligations.
  • NEVER admit liability, accept responsibility or offer to pay for a client’s expenses without first consulting with your professional liability insurance claim department.
  • REPORT any letters received from a regulatory board regarding your professional services to your professional liability insurance administrator immediately upon receipt and before preparing a response.

Social work is a rewarding career that demands personal commitment. But helping others can put you at risk of being sued by someone dissatisfied with an outcome. Taking the necessary steps to manage malpractice risk is extremely important. NASW Assurance Services works to ensure that NASW members are properly protected and equipped with the knowledge and resources needed to maintain a high standard of client care.


2014 NASW Delegate Assembly Activities Under Way

The 2014 NASW Delegate Assembly activities have begun, and will end with a virtual meeting on Aug. 2, 2014. Please go to the Assembly website for upcoming deadlines and other information. As has been the case since the 2008 DA, most of the activities will be conducted online, allowing delegates and all other members to take part in the majority of activities at their convenience. Any member who intends to propose changes to the NASW Code of Ethics or bylaws (relating to those articles in the purview of the DA) should email Sue Jashinsky by April 26, 2013. The proposals need to be written and submitted in final form and per the guidelines by June 14, 2013. The Delegate Assembly is the representative, decision-making body of 277 delegates through which NASW members establish program priority goals and develop a collective stance on public and professional policies. The Delegate Assembly meets once every three years.

CPT Codes

NASW Addressing Disparities in Payment for New CPT Codes

Many members have expressed concern about the disparities in payment for the new psychotherapy codes. Per the Final Rule of the 2013 Physician Fee Schedule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it is establishing interim work and practice expense values for the new psychotherapy codes until the entire family of psychiatric codes is surveyed. Having no permanent values for the codes has created additional chaos for the insurance community because they have no framework to determine proper reimbursement for the codes. NASW is working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, American Medical Association, and other organizations to complete the survey process this year so that permanent values for the codes can be established in 2014. The national survey took place in March. The NASW national office is also advocating for clinical social workers with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, American Medical Association, and the CPT Editorial Panel to enhance the implementation phase of the new codes and make changes to improve the interpretation and use of them. For details on the changes and revisions to the psychotherapy codes that went into effect in January, go to: New Psychotherapy Codes for Clinical Social Workers {}

NASW also is hosting free question-and-answer sessions on the new psychotherapy codes, which are limited to the first 100 callers on the day of the event.