This past week in Washington, physical therapists from around the world heard that direct access and patient self-referral to a physical therapist is proven to be safe, and results in improved health outcomes, more timely care, higher patient satisfaction, and lower costs, says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Alexandria, Va, which cohosted the International Summit on Direct Access and Advanced Scope of Practice.

Direct access and patient self-referral allows patients to access physical therapy as their first choice for rehabilitation and wellness programs. A physician referral is not required.

The findings of this conference confirm that the legislation allowing patients to access physical therapists without a referral—legislation that currently exists in 44 states—is worth pursuing in all states and at the federal level," said APTA President R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD, in a statement released by the organization.

Leaders from 18 countries attending the event endorsed the results of research that demonstrate that patient self-referral to physical therapy is best for all health systems, whether public or private, according to the statement.

"The results of this wide body of research are clear: patients benefit from self-referral and direct access. We encourage legislators and health administrators around the world to consider these findings," says Marilyn Moffat, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA, president of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT), in the statement.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPT) shared its successes with direct access during a symposium, panel discussion, and breakout sessions. "Canada has been a world leader in legislating direct access so that patients can self-refer to physiotherapy," said Alice Aiken, PT, PhD, president CPT. "Patient self-referral is legal in all provinces of Canada."

Some 150 physical therapists from around the world attended the meeting, which was co-hosted by APTA, WCPT, and CPT.

[Source: APTA]