Patients in New York who need physical therapist services can now go directly to their physical therapist without having to wait to receive a referral from a physician.

New York is the 43rd state to pass “direct access” legislation that eliminates, under certain conditions, the physician referral requirement for patients needing physical therapist services. The Consumer Access to Physical Therapy bill, S3169/A5622, passed the legislature with bipartisan support, and was signed into law August 1 by Gov George E. Pataki. It will become effective in 120 days. This new law will allow patients to directly access the services of a licensed physical therapist for 10 visits or 30 days, whichever comes first.

“Physical therapists have been working with the state legislature to achieve direct access for patients for nearly 25 years,” says James Dunleavy, PT, MS, president of the New York Physical Therapy Association (NYPTA). “Now patients in New York, like patients in many other states, will have improved access to physical therapy care. This bill is a thoughtful piece of legislation with patient safety taking the highest priority.”

”Direct access helps remove unnecessary barriers to health care and gives consumers a choice in accessing physical therapist services,” says R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD, president of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). “Many states have had direct access laws on the books for nearly 30 years and evidence has shown that direct access to physical therapist services is cost-effective, safe, and has improved access to care.”

[SOURCE: PR Newswire, July 27, 2006]