What Does “Direct Access” Mean
- Patients throughout the state of Michigan can now feel even more empowered to take control of their health thanks to legislation signed into law allowing patients direct access to physical therapy. “Direct access”, sometimes called self-referral, means patients have the right to go directly to a licensed physical therapist (PT) for evaluation and treatment without a referral or prescription from a physician or other previously qualified healthcare practitioner. Eliminating the need for physician referral has been shown to result in timely, more effective care for patients.
- When this new law, Public Act 260 of 2014, became effective January 1, 2015, Michigan joined the ranks of 49 other states and the District of Columbia to adopt some level of direct access to physical therapy treatment. A licensed Physical Therapist can treat a patient without a prescription for 21 days or 10 treatments, whichever comes first. If conditions do not improve, or more therapy is required, the Physical Therapist will refer the patient to an appropriate health care professional for future plan of care. The law also allows patients to see a physical therapist directly for injury prevention and fitness promotion.
- The American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA’s) Guide of Professional Conduct advocates that physical therapists should assist patients in receiving appropriate medical care when the physical therapist’s examination and evaluation reveals signs and symptoms inconsistent with a condition that can be appropriately treated with physical therapy, or needs a physician’s care and expertise.
- Direct Access does not eliminate communication with your primary care provider. Our Physical therapists will continue to communicate with your primary care provider regarding findings of the evaluation and treatment plan, especially if the physical therapist is concerned about other health care issues. Physical therapists are an important part of your health care team, and we are excited to welcome direct access for physical therapy services in the State of Michigan.
- It is recommended that patients verify insurance coverage prior to seeking direct access treatment. For more information about direct access, please visit the American Physical Therapy Association’s web site, www.apta.org. To initiate direct assess for your specific recovery, contact us to schedule an appointment at St. Clair Physical Therapy.