What is Direct Access?
Direct Access means a patient may be evaluated and treated for a musculoskeletal injury by a physical therapist without being referred by a doctor or other healthcare practitioner. Prior to January 1, 2015 in the state of Virginia, a patient was required to have a physician's prescription before starting physical therapy. If you feel you have a problem that may benefit from the skilled services of a physical therapist, you may be able to refer yourself to physical therapy for treatment. Sometimes direct access is called self-referral. This can save valuable time and money.
Why Is Direct Access Important?
Healthcare is expensive. A system that allows the patient to directly seek the services of a physical therapist can help save healthcare dollars by eliminating unnecessary tests or other specialist referrals. Many conditions can be successfully evaluated and treated with no expensive diagnostic testing. Visiting your physical therapist directly allows you to start n treatment right away. Physical therapy is a low cost, value-packed healthcare service.
What if I need to see a doctor?
Physical Therapists are specialists in musculoskeletal problems; Physical Therapists are trained to recognize signs and symptoms that may indicate problems outside the scope of physical therapy practice. When this is the case, patients will be referred to an appropriate physician for evaluation.
There are some limitations/restrictions in seeking PT through Direct Access.
- Direct Access is for physical therapy only. Occupational therapy requires a written prescription from your physician.
- The patient must not have been evaluated for the same injury within the last three months in order for the therapist to perform an initial evaluation through Direct Access.
- The patient can receive Physical Therapy for one month, through Direct Access. After that time a valid prescription from a physician is required.
- The patient must give the therapist the name of the licensed healthcare provider the patient plans to see if his or her condition does not improve within the 30-day time frame.
- The patient must provide written consent that the therapist can release records to that healthcare provider.
- The therapist must contact the healthcare provider at the end of the 30-day period to see if he or she will authorize any further physical therapy treatment until the patient is able to see the provider.
Call our office at 703-525-5542 to make an appointment. All you need is to identify a doctor to whom you would like us to send a report on the day of your first appointment. You can then be seen for one month before the doctor needs to write a prescription. It's that easy.