Code of Ethics

The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) promotes exemplary professional conduct within the field of hand and upper extremity therapy. The ASHT Code of Ethics guides occupational therapists and physical therapists specializing in hand and upper extremity therapy in clinical practice, consultation, administration, research, education and mentoring of student and fellow therapists. The ASHT Code of Ethics describes the commitment of hand and upper extremity therapists to excellence, accountability, integrity and collaboration in professional interactions with patients, other healthcare providers, payers and regulatory agencies. Finally, the ASHT Code of Ethics sets a standard for appropriate professional conduct.

No code of ethics is capable of addressing every situation. It is the responsibility of the individual hand therapist to seek additional advice or consultation by using the respective parent organization's code of ethics, national certification and state board organizations (the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. [NBCOT] or Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy [FSBPT]), state practice acts and regulatory agencies for information or clarification of established standards.

The ASHT Code of Ethics is based on the following core values and principles:


  • possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles and professional standards
  • honoring confidentiality


  • demonstrating respect toward others
  • taking responsibility for knowing and following applicable practice guidelines, rules, regulations and laws
  • refraining from conflicts of interest and the appearance thereof
  • promoting and enhancing the practice of hand and upper exremity therapy


  • acting with fairness and impartiality toward others
  • respecting and adhering to applicable laws and standards applicable to the area of practice, including direct care, education and research
  • demonstrating civic engagement and social responsibility


  • placing the needs of others before personal needs and interests


  • using clinical and ethical reasoning skills, current best evidence, sound judgment and reflection to guide decision-making


  • seeking to be outstanding in all aspects of practice
  • being an evidence-based practitioner, demonstrating the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. This means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research (Sackett D, 1996).

Principle #1

Hand therapists shall demonstrate compassion and concern for the well-being and needs of all individuals receiving their services.

Principle #2

Hand therapists shall respect individual dignity and the right to individual self-determination.

Principle #3

Hand therapists shall provide quality and cost-effective care in a fair and equitable manner, including the provision of comprehensive, accurate, objective information while maintaining patient confidentiality as mandated by the law.

Principle #4

Hand therapists shall demonstrate integrity and trustworthiness in all professional relationships and will refrain from any activities or relationships where an actual or perceived conflict of interest might compromise patient care.

Principle #5

Hand therapists shall comply with all applicable institutional rules, local, state, federal and international laws and regulations, as well as the codes of ethics of the respective occupational therapy and physical therapy parent organizations.

Principle #6

Hand therapists shall enhance their expertise through career-long learning, application of current best evidence and refinement of knowledge and skills.

Principle #7

Hand therapists shall be held accountable for sound professional judgment and shall refrain from intentional actions that may cause harm to others.

Principle #8

Hand therapists shall participate in their respective professional associations, business practices and the legislative and regulatory processes as is appropriate to promote the practice of hand therapy in order to benefit recipients of their services.

Revised August 2014

American Occupational Therapy Association, Code of Ethics, 2010
American Physical Therapy Association, Code of Ethics, 2010