What is Direct Access?
Direct access to physical therapy services means an individual can be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist without first seeing their physician for a prescription/referral. Currently, 45 states and the District of Columbia have direct access. In 2003, New Jersey became a direct access state.
What are the benefits of Direct Access?
Accessibility to and timely treatment by a licensed physical therapist promotes optimal outcomes and recovery. An individual can relieve their pain, improve their movement, and restore their quality of life without delay. Waiting for your physician to order physical therapy delays care and can result in higher costs, increased number of visits, and decreased functional outcomes. In addition to helping people save time and money, direct access also results in savings in the overall health care system by reducing physician visits and testing while freeing the physicians to devote their time to patients who require the skill of a physician versus the skill of a physical therapist.
Is Direct Access Safe?
Yes. Physical therapists are educated at the post-baccalaureate level and receive extensive education and clinical training in the evaluation and treatment of patients with functional limitations and disabilities. Physical therapists always evalaute patients to determine appropriate treatment and, as necessary, refer patients to another health care provider who can best meet their needs. Liability insurers and the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy affirm that direct access does not jeopardize the health, safety, or welfare of patients seeking physical therapists’ services without prescription/referral.