Direct access means that you have the ability to be seen by a physical therapist without a referral from your physician. This gives you control to make your own treatment choices if you believe you will benefit from physical therapy treatment. Every state allows for an evaluation and some form of treatment by a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral, though the amount and type of treatment you are able to receive varies depending on which state you live in.
Physical therapists are licensed healthcare providers that are experts in musculoskeletal and movement disorders, though they are also qualified to examine for and recognize potentially serious signs where it is appropriate to refer back to a doctor or specialist.
New Jersey requires that physical therapists refer you back to a doctor when:
- The physical therapist has reason to believe that physical therapy is contraindicated for you or services are required that are outside the scope of practice of physical therapy
- You fail to make expected progress within 30 days of your first visit
- Your physical therapist is also required to inform your physician of your physical therapy plan of care within 30 days of your first visit. If you do not have a primary care physician, you would need to establish care with a doctor of your choice within those 30 days.
What are the Benefits of Direct Access?
Direct access allows you to make your own decisions regarding the types of treatment you receive and the members of your care team. You are able to seek physical therapy treatment without getting approval from your physician first. The other major benefits of direct access include:
- Quicker access to physical therapy services
- Reduced costs due to less visits needed with your doctor to receive referrals
- Seeing a physical therapist first for orthopedic injuries which can reduce unnecessary treatments, medications, and imaging
- Enhanced patient-provider relationship
- Increased control of medical decision making
At Breakthru Physical Therapy + Fitness, we believe in a team approach to managing your care and we will always communicate our treatment plan and updates in your condition back to your doctor and other members of your care team. If you have questions about your right to direct access treatment or how to get started, please click here to schedule an appointment today!