Physical Therapists evaluate and treat movement dysfunctions and improve functional skills in patients of all ages. Because of the strict education and medical training they undergo, PTs are qualified and permitted to diagnose a patient, establish an appropriate care plan, and safely implement it. Moreover, PTs are able to determine when physical therapy is not suitable for a patient and refer them to another healthcare professional.
Since 2015, all 50 states have started to allowed some form of direct access to physical therapy according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Depending on the area, specific provisions have to be met. Direct Access means that physical therapists are allowed to treat patients without a referral from a general practitioner or specialist. In North Carolina, Direct Access is restricted by the following factors:
- Manipulation of the spine without a referral from a physician is prohibited.
- Medical diagnosis of disease is prohibited.
- If the patient’s condition is beyond the scope of PT practice, it is considered unlawful practice to fail to refer them to a licensed medical doctor or dentist.
Direct access to physical therapists gives patients options by broadening their choice of health care providers as well as saving time and money. Before Direct Access, the first stop was your primary care physician, who may have referred you to an orthopedic specialist, who would then write a prescription for physical therapy. That route could delay the rehabilitation process by over a month and involve a few insurance co-pays. Actually, a 2017 Merritt Hawkins study showed that the average wait time to see a physician was 24 days, up 30% from 2014.
With Direct Access, you can make an appointment with your physical therapist immediately when you suspect you need his or her help. It’s up to you to receive professional assistance as soon as possible. Don’t wait and make an appointment today at our Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic! Our goal is to improve your and your family’s quality of life. We will be more than happy to attend to your physical therapy needs.
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Find out more about our Clinic here.