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Form Frustration: No Other?


I found this on the online form required to establish care with a physical therapy provider:

Other Contact Type:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Caregiver

Suppose the prospective patient has no spouse, her parents have died, and she has no caregiver. The patient must lie to complete the form. Further suppose that the patient suffers from a disability that prevents her from legibly completing a paper form, and that she has no typewriter. (You do remember what a typewriter is, do you not?) If the patient does complete the form with false information, and the provider relies on that false information, diagnosis and treatment may harm the patient resulting in malpractice liability.

How difficult can it be for the writer to add "Other" as the final choice? Many forms also provide a blank to provide more information.

Patients: Refuse to complete a form that forces you to respond with misinformation. Insist that the provider correct the form so you can respond appropriately.

Providers: Do not assume that you know all the possible responses. With very few exceptions, you should add "Other" to the choices, especially if you require the person completing the form to respond in order to obtain services.