MYTH: I need a doctor’s referral to see a physical therapist. REALITY: You have direct access to physical therapy services without requiring a referral from a doctor.
What is direct access? Direct access means that you don’t need a physician referral or prescription in order to receive the services of a physical therapist.
For the past 25+ years, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has worked hard to achieve direct access to enhance the practice of physical therapy and the care provided to patients.
In a recent study by the APTA, 70% of people think a referral or prescription is required for evaluation by a physical therapist. However, today, some form of direct access exists in every state, and at the very least a patient can receive an evaluation and some form of treatment without physician referral.
Some states do have restrictions about the treatment a PT can provide without a physician referral. In the state of North Carolina, manipulation of the spine must be prescribed by the physician, and a physical therapist cannot give a medical diagnosis of a disease.
It is also considered unlawful practice for the PT to practice beyond their scope of practice without referring the patient to a doctor. Furthermore, many insurance providers will reimburse for PT services without a physician referral, although some do still require one.
A part of our service is verifying insurance details related to one’s policy, so you are well informed of your benefits and can make the best decision, etc.
In today’s age, physical therapists are doctoral level medical professionals whose training and education make them more than qualified to not only conduct an initial evaluation, but also to recognize when a patient’s medical needs fall outside of their scope of practice.
We view direct access as a way to empower not just the therapists but also you, the patient.