OT Practice and COVID-19, Telepractice/Virtual Practice, E-Signatures

OT Practice and COVID-19

Over the coming weeks you may be asked by your employer to assist with the pandemic response by performing activities you do not usually do. To help with your assessment of your ability to perform these activities, note that OTs are authorized to do any non-restricted activities as well as the following restricted activities listed in the Occupational Therapists Profession Regulation, if they receive adequate training to do them:

Authorized Restricted Activities

17 A. regulated member may, in the practice of occupational therapy and in accordance with the standards of practice governing the performance of restricted activities approved by the Council, perform the following restricted activities:
(a) to cut a body tissue, to administer anything by an invasive procedure on body tissue for the purpose of administering injections and providing wound debridement and care;

(b) to insert or remove instruments, devices or fingers

(i) beyond the cartilaginous portion of the ear canal, (ii) beyond the point in the nasal passages where they normally narrow, (iii) beyond the pharynx, (iv) beyond the opening of the urethra, (v) beyond the labia majora, (vi) beyond the anal verge, or (vii) into an artificial opening into the body;

(c) to set or reset a fracture of a bone for the purpose of splinting hands, arms, feet or legs, applying fracture braces and performing cranioplasty;

(d) to reduce a dislocation of a joint except for a partial dislocation of the joints of the fingers and toes;

(e) to administer diagnostic imaging contrast agents;

(f) to fit an orthodontic or periodontal appliance for the purpose of fitting a mouth stick or mouth splint;

(g) to perform a psycho-social intervention with an expectation of treating a substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs

                           (i) judgment,
                          (ii) behaviour,
                          (iii) capacity to recognize reality, or
                          (iv) ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.

Whether performing restricted activities or regular OT activities that are new to you, the key is to be sure you receive enough training to competently perform the activities. It is up to you to ensure you feel competent to perform any OT activities before performing them with clients.

Telepractice & Virtual Practice

We have received many inquiries about telepractice and virtual practice now that many OTs are switching to remote work. This Interim Advisory Statement outlines some of the considerations for working with clients while using electronic communication applications such as videoconferencing.

Use of E-Signatures

We have also been fielding inquiries about the acceptability of e-signatures on documents while working remotely. Typically, for those working outside of electronic medical records, many documents OTs work with would be printed, signed and then stored/copied and forwarded to appropriate parties.

Proposed alternatives, which would be acceptable to ACOT during the period of the current public health emergency, would be to have a copy of your signature inserted into the document/report which would be subsequently pdf’ed or if you have the capability through your pdf program to insert a digital signature. The electronically signed document(s) would then be shared through secure means (i.e. uploaded to the secure shared site or sent through encrypted email). It is recommended that in the signature line you indicate that the signature is an electronic signature (e.g. “electronically signed by”).

Although use of an e-signature is in adherence to ACOT’s Standards of Practice, your employer may have specific requirements before an e-signature is considered acceptable.  You should confirm with your employer whether there are any additional requirements that need to be followed.

ACOT staff are available to answer questions you may have during this challenging time. Email is the easiest way to contact us with your questions.