What is Physical Therapy Direct Access?
Physical Therapy Direct Access means you can begin physical therapy services without a physician referral or prescription. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), “Every state, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands allow for evaluation and some form of treatment without physician referral” (Bohnett, 2015). However, each state has their own restrictions.
In New Jersey:
As of 2003, a licensed Physical Therapist can treat a patient without referral as long as the patient is making reasonable progress within 30 days of treatment. If the patient is not making progress, then the therapist must refer the patient to the appropriate health care provider.(Lefferts, 2015)
Why should I use Direct Access?
Direct Access enables you to start treatment right away which may save you time and money. It may also jump start your recovery process! If you feel that you require an evaluation by your physician first, BeneFIT Physical Therapy encourages you do to so.
Is it covered by insurance?
Just as with Physical Therapy services with a physician referral or prescription, insurance coverage depends on the provider and the plan you have.
Note: If the patient is seeking reimbursement from an auto insurance policy, they must have a referral from a licensed physician, dentist, podiatrist, or chiropractor. (Lefferts, 2015)
Are Physical Therapists qualified to provide services without a referral?
Physical Therapists are widely educated in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention for individuals with impairments. In addition, all Physical Therapists are clinically trained to recognize when a patient presents with signs and symptoms outside the scope of PT practice and when the patient should be referred to a physician. (APTA, 2015)
- American Physical Therapy Association. FAQ: Direct Access at the State Level. http://www.apta.org/StateIssues/DirectAccess/FAQs/. January 1, 2015. Accessed September 1, 2015.
- Lefferts, C. Direct Access Laws by State. https://www.webpt.com/blog/post/direct-access-laws-state-missouri-pennsylvania. October 22, 2014. September 1, 2015.
- Bohnett, C. What is Direct Access and Why Should PTs care? https://www.webpt.com/blog/post/what-direct-access-and-why-should-pts-care. October 1, 2014. Accessed September 1, 2015.