Public Act 06-125 (direct access in Connecticut) was signed into law by Governor M. Jodi Rell and went into effect on October 1, 2006. It allows patients to see a physical therapist directly without a physician referral for 6 visits or 30 days, whichever occurs first, as long as they have a primary care provider.
There are a number of benefits that come from Direct Access.
- Direct access allows you to see a licensed physical therapist without seeing a physician first, minimizing the wait time and allowing you to receive the care you need sooner rather than later.
- Our physical therapists have gone through extensive training for medical screening and musculoskeletal exams and are highly qualified musculoskeletal experts. During an evaluation, your therapist will ask specific questions related to your health, including past medical history and medications, to determine if physical therapy is appropriate at the moment.
- Physical therapists are trained to recognize "red flags" that require a referral to a physician and will guide you through that process, if necessary.
- Once a treatment plan is in place, our team will work with you, your family members and your healthcare provider(s) to work toward achieving your goals.
- Direct access can decrease overall healthcare costs, improve functional outcomes and minimize overall frustration throughout your recovery process.
- Direct access enhances communication with your primary care provider because we send our initial findings ad ongoing progress, which gives your provider better information on the effectiveness of therapy or the need for further diagnostic recommendations.
- An individual seeking a license to engage in the practice of physical therapy with a master’s or doctorate from a nationally accredited physical therapy program is allowed to treat patients without a physician referral. A physical therapist with a bachelor’s degree must have practiced for 4 of the past 6 years before being able to treat direct access patients.
- A patient can go directly without a physician referral for 6 visits or 30 days, whichever occurs first, as long as he/she has a primary care provider. If the patient demonstrates measurable, objective, functional progress, the physical therapist may continue treatment. Otherwise, he/she must be referred to a physician.
- If the patient did not show a reasonable response to physical therapy treatment in a time period consistent with standards of practice established by the legislation, the physical therapist would have to consult with an appropriate health care practitioner.
- Workers’ Compensation patients are not eligible for direct access care.
There are also some limitations with Direct Access to Physical Therapy.