The Public Act 260 of 2014 became effective January 1, 2015. This law provides people direct access to physical therapy without a referral for up to 21 days or 10 treatment visits, whichever occurs first. People can also see a physical therapist directly for injury prevention and fitness promotion without a referral.
Many conditions are successfully treated by hands-on treatment and individualized exercise programs provided by your physical therapist. Painful and expensive surgeries can be put off and sometimes even eradicated altogether. Plus, physical therapy has been known to reduce and sometimes even eliminate the need for dangerously addictive painkillers. Physical therapists are also highly trained in identifying conditions that might need further evaluation or medical treatment and can include primary care physicians when needed.
Direct Access Benefits
Direct Access to Michigan Physical Therapists provides many benefits, including but not limited to:
- You will have much quicker access the treatment you deserve.
- While each patient case is different, clinical research shows that Direct Access should save you money.
- Direct Access physical therapy is safe. Physical therapists receive extensive training in diagnosing the source of your pain and developing personalized treatments that help. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists have very low rates of malpractice, and states with full Direct Access show no increase in malpractice suits than states without strict regulations.
- Physical therapy visits last 30-60 minutes so your condition is thoroughly evaluated.
- Seeing a physical therapist first, in many cases, will result in fewer overall treatment sessions.
- Some form of direct access to physical therapy is legal in every state of the United States, The District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands.
Direct Access Limitations
There are also guidelines and restrictions for direct access to physical therapy in Michigan, which include:
- Treatment without a referral can only be provided for up to 21 (21) consecutive business days or ten (10) treatment visits, whichever occurs first.
- Effective December 31, 2009, an individual seeking a license to engage in the practice of physical therapy must hold a doctorate degree from a nationally accredited physical therapy program. However, all individuals who held a physical therapy license from Michigan or another state before December 31, 2009 would be granted grandfather status and would not be required to hold a doctoral level degree.
- If a physical therapist had reasonable cause to believe that a patient had symptoms or conditions requiring services beyond the scope of practice of physical therapy, he or she would have to refer the patient to an appropriate health care practitioner.
- If a patient did not show reasonable response to physical therapy treatment in a time period consistent with standards of practice established by the Department of Consumer and Industry Services (CIS), the physical therapist would have to consult with an appropriate health care practitioner.
Although under Michigan law we are able to treat patients without a script from a physician, most insurance companies require a signed plan of care by a physician before covering physical therapy services. Our clinic will send your physician a plan of care.
Even with direct access laws in effect, some insurance companies still require a physician's referral before covering physical therapy treatment.