Georgia is one of 26 states that allow direct patient access to physical therapy with some provisions. Before you pursue direct access physical therapy in Georgia, make sure you’re familiar with the following:
To practice via direct access physical therapy in Georgia, a PT must:
Obtain a doctorate in physical therapy or an equivalent degree from an accredited institution as well as two years of clinical experience; or
Obtain a doctorate in physical therapy or an equivalent degree in addition to a post-graduate certification, American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties certification, or residency/fellowship training; or
Have five years of experience practicing in a clinical setting.
After 21 days or eight visits—whichever comes first—from the start of the direct access physical therapy plan of care in Georgia, the physical therapist must obtain a referral from the appropriately licensed healthcare provider unless:
The provided services are for health promotion, wellness, fitness, or health maintenance. Furthermore, if the patient presents with symptoms that exceed the physical therapy scope of practice, the physical therapist in Georgia must refer that patient to a qualified healthcare provider;
The patient received a diagnosis within the last nine months of a neuromuscular or developmental condition and the physical therapist is providing services for symptoms or issues resulting from that previously diagnosed condition; or
The patient received a diagnosis within the last 90 days of a chronic musculoskeletal condition, and the patient can produce current and relevant documentation from an appropriate healthcare provider to confirm that diagnosis.
In this instance, the physical therapist in Georgia must provide a written disclosure to the patient that a diagnosis from a PT and a physician’s diagnosis are not one and the same, and that a physical therapist diagnosis is not reliant on radiological imaging.
This disclaimer should also indicate that some direct access physical therapy services in Georgia might not be covered by the patient's health insurer.
Additionally, the physical therapist must consult with the patient’s primary care provider or physician’s assistant before performing any dry needling treatment on a patient pursuing direct access to physical therapy in Georgia.