Top 4 Ways to Avoid Professional Liability Issues: Advice from ABMP’s Risk Management Expert

Two women talking over business reports

If you’ve ever had to use your ABMP insurance benefit while dealing with a professional liability claim, you most likely interacted with our very best—Debbie Higdon, ABMP’s longtime risk management manager. Now, after nearly 27 years as part of our ABMP family, Debbie has decided it’s time to “go fishing.” Before heading off into retirement, we asked Debbie about risk management and her best advice for the ways practitioners can protect their livelihoods.

Q: Tell us about your time with ABMP and working with our members.

DH: The time I have spent working with our members and helping them through what can be a difficult time has been rewarding in so many ways and is what I felt was the most important part of my job. Over the years, I have worked with our members with a wide range of claims, from a massage therapist whose client suffers bruising or even displaced or broken ribs, to a table collapsing and the client suffering injuries. Our estheticians may have clients that suffer skin lifting and/or burns from waxing or a client suffering an injury from a chemical peel or product reaction. While some of these claims have resulted in somewhat low loss payments, some have resulted in claims over $100,000. These members would have suffered financial hardship if they had not had their insurance coverage as a benefit of membership.  

Q: Based on your experience, what’s your best bit of advice for practitioners when it comes to practicing safely and avoiding professional liability issues?

DH: I would advise our members to always stay within your scope of practice, do intake/medical histories, listen to your clients, and, if in doubt about providing services, listen to your gut and refer out if necessary. And now our members will have the highly talented Spencer Bellott to walk them through any of their claim’s issues. Spencer comes to ABMP with 10 years in the insurance industry and will provide the same customer service our members have always been accustomed to.

Q: How has the massage profession changed since you started?

DH: When I first started with ABMP, the profession was “recognized” but not to the extent we have seen since 1994. Massage is now widely accepted and recognized as beneficial, not only as a relaxation tool, but something necessary to help with their clients’ health and well-being.

Q: You’ve been at the heart of this organization for years—what sets ABMP above our competitors? What makes us special?

DH: I believe what sets us apart is that we have always had our members’ best interest at heart and that we strive to meet our “Expect More” credo. All 50-plus of our employees have one goal—to provide excellent service to our members, whether that is our membership team renewing their membership over the phone, our government relations team being ever involved on legislative issues, our communications department providing award-winning publications, our IS team working hard on keeping our systems running, our education department working with schools and students to help them achieve their goals, or our leadership team of Les Sweeney and Bob Benson who are completely hands-on and involved in all aspects of making us the best that is out there.  

Q: What are you looking forward to in retirement?

DH: I look forward to spending time in the mountains with my family; we really like to get into the outdoors. And, of course, fishing! 

Debbie Higdon

Put Debbie's best advice to work by checking out these ABMP member resources:

  • ABMP Pocket Pathology: A quick-reference that puts key information for nearly 200 common pathologies at your fingertips so you can make the best treatment decisions for your clients who live with health challenges. Learn more about this exclusive ABMP member benefit at
  • ABMP Members-Only Resource:Diagnose No, Refer Out Yes” exclusive video with Ruth Werner
  • ABMP Members-Only Resource: How to Do a Proper Health Intake” exclusive video with Ruth Werner


ABMP’s Back to Practice: Pre-Session Interaction

“SOAP Charting” by Cindy Williams



Oregon Seeks Applicants for Grant Program Advisory Committee

The Healthy Oregon Workforce Training Opportunity (HOWTO) Grant Program is seeking people to serve on the HOWTO Grant Program Advisory Committee. If you are a motivated leader committed to advancing health equity, trauma-informed workspaces, and expanding the health-care workforce in Oregon, apply before December 15, 2022.

Agenda Confirms CAMTC Could Seek Fee Hike

CAMTC's meeting agenda confirms there may be a vote on a fee increase and discloses meeting location. Submit comments to the CAMTC as soon as possible.


Make Gratitude Part of Your Daily Life

Man Giving Thanks to Nature.

While this is the time of year that #gratitude starts trending, living a grateful life is not something to wrap up in a day, a week, a month . . . or a hashtag. We need to honor it all from an open heart.

Upledger CranioSacral Therapy Can Help with PTSD

CranioSacral Therapy can help with PTSD.

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on treatment modality that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance.


ABMP’s Lymph Talk Series

Lymph Talk is a series of conversations ABMP Director of Professional Education Kristin Coverly had with practitioners who specialize in the manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) modality. These talks were recorded in conjunction with the October 25, 2022, free, online ABMP CE Summit on Lymph. Kristin says, “My hope is that these conversations increase the awareness of MLD and demonstrate how effective it can be with different populations so massage therapists and bodyworkers are inspired to learn more about this gentle, yet powerful modality!”

2022 ABMP CE Summit Course—MLD: Basic Techniques for the Neck and Face

Gain an understanding of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) movements and the location of important lymphatic structures as you watch Nicola McGill’s dynamic demonstration of three MLD techniques and MLD sequences for the neck and face. Learn about this important modality that, when provided effectively, can support and enhance the movement of lymph fluid through the lymphatic vessels and eventually back to the cardiovascular system.

2022 ABMP CE Summit Course—Introduction to Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a gentle, rhythmic form of bodywork that enhances and supports the movement of fluid through the lymphatic system to support health and well-being. Developed by Danish therapists Emil and Estrid Vodder in the 1930s, MLD is now practiced extensively by health and wellness practitioners and is used within the medical community to treat lymphedema and post-surgical and post-traumatic edema. Join Nicola McGill in this engaging course to learn the benefits, indications, and mechanics of this gentle, effective modality.

Please note: We have recently updated our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Learn more...