Direct Access makes self-referral for physical therapy easy in California.

Here are the Direct Access laws in California, as described by the American Physical Therapy Association:

California is one of 26 states that allow direct patient access to physical therapy. In order to take advantage of the benefits of direct access to physical therapy in California, though, there are some provisions.

To practice via direct access for physical therapy in California, a PT must:

Refer the patient to the patient’s physician if the patient presents with signs of a condition that requires treatment beyond the scope of direct access physical therapy in California.

Refer the patient to his or her physician if the patient is not progressing toward documented treatment goals in manner that can be objectively measured.

Disclose to the patient any financial interest the therapist has in treating the patient under direct access physical therapy in California.

If the physical therapist is working as part of a physical therapy corporation in California, they must comply with Chapter 1, Article 6, commencing with Section 650.

Physical therapists must notify the patient’s physician or surgeon—with the patient’s written authorization—that the patient is being treated by a physical therapist in California.

Provide written or verbal notice to the patient in at least 14-point type to indicate receipt of direct access physical therapy treatment services in California. This notice must also:

Note that the patient may continue receiving direct access to physical therapy treatment in California for up to 45 calendar days or 12 visits, whichever occurs first.

Indicate that after 45 days or 12 visits, the physical therapist in California may only continue treating the patient with receipt of a dated signature on the physical therapist’s plan of care indicating (1) approval of that plan and (2) that an in-person examination and evaluation was conducted by the appropriate healthcare provider.

Be signed by the patient.

If treatment under direct access physical therapy in California lasts longer than 45 calendar days or 12 visits—whichever comes first—the physical therapist must obtain a dated signature on the plan of care from the patient’s healthcare provider.

Approval of the plan of care includes an in-person patient exam and evaluation and, if necessary, testing by the patient’s healthcare provider.

Benefits of direct access to physical therapy do not include allowing the PT to diagnose a disease.

A referral and certification are required before the physical therapist can perform tissue penetration in California.


Direct Access lets you self-refer for physical therapy. No prescription required.

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