Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
Chapter 34.1. Physical Therapy
6/18/2024

§ 54.1-3482. Practice of physical therapy; certain experience and referrals required; physical therapist assistants.

A. It shall be unlawful for a person to engage in the practice of physical therapy except as a licensed physical therapist, upon the referral and direction of a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, or dental surgery, a licensed advanced practice registered nurse practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957, or a licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician, except as provided in this section.

B. A physical therapist who has completed a doctor of physical therapy program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education or who has obtained a certificate of authorization pursuant to § 54.1-3482.1 may evaluate and treat a patient without a referral under the following conditions: (i) the patient is not receiving care from any licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, or dental surgery, a licensed advanced practice registered nurse practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957, or a licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician for the symptoms giving rise to the presentation at the time of the presentation to the physical therapist for physical therapy services or (ii) the patient is receiving care from a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, or dental surgery, a licensed advanced practice registered nurse practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957, or a licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician at the time of his presentation to the physical therapist for the symptoms giving rise to the presentation for physical therapy services and (a) the patient identifies a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, or dental surgery, a licensed advanced practice registered nurse practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957, or a licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician from whom he is currently receiving care; (b) the patient gives written consent for the physical therapist to release all personal health information and treatment records to the identified practitioner; and (c) the physical therapist notifies the practitioner identified by the patient no later than 14 days after treatment commences and provides the practitioner with a copy of the initial evaluation along with a copy of the patient history obtained by the physical therapist.

C. A physical therapist who has not completed a doctor of physical therapy program approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education or who has not obtained a certificate of authorization pursuant to § 54.1-3482.1 may conduct a one-time evaluation that does not include treatment of a patient without the referral and direction of a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, or dental surgery, a licensed advanced practice registered nurse practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957, or a licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician; if appropriate, the physical therapist shall immediately refer such patient to the appropriate practitioner.

D. Invasive procedures within the scope of practice of physical therapy, except for the practice of dry needling, shall at all times be performed only under the referral and direction of a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, or dental surgery, a licensed advanced practice registered nurse practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957, or a licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a physical therapist in the practice of dry needling to fail to comply with the provisions of § 54.1-2956.9.

E. It shall be unlawful for any licensed physical therapist to fail to immediately refer any patient to a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, or dental surgery, or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957 when such patient's medical condition is determined, at the time of evaluation or treatment, to be beyond the physical therapist's scope of practice. Upon determining that the patient's medical condition is beyond the scope of practice of a physical therapist, a physical therapist shall immediately refer such patient to an appropriate practitioner.

F. Any person licensed as a physical therapist assistant shall perform his duties only under the direction and control of a licensed physical therapist.

G. However, a licensed physical therapist may provide, without referral or supervision, physical therapy services to (i) a student athlete participating in a school-sponsored athletic activity while such student is at such activity in a public, private, or religious elementary, middle or high school, or public or private institution of higher education when such services are rendered by a licensed physical therapist who is certified as an athletic trainer by the National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification or as a sports certified specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties; (ii) employees solely for the purpose of evaluation and consultation related to workplace ergonomics; (iii) infants and toddlers, from birth to age three, who require physical therapy services to fulfill the provisions of their individualized services plan under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. § 1431 et seq.) and students with disabilities who require physical therapy services to fulfill the provisions of their individualized education plan or physical therapy services provided under § 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq.); (iv) the public for the purpose of wellness, fitness, and health screenings; (v) the public for the purpose of health promotion and education; and (vi) the public for the purpose of prevention of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities.

2000, c. 688; 2001, c. 858; 2002, cc. 434, 471; 2003, c. 496; 2005, c. 928; 2007, cc. 9, 18; 2015, cc. 724, 746; 2018, c. 776; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 481; 2023, cc. 136, 137, 183.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.