Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
11/19/2019

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 54.1-3473. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Board" means the Board of Physical Therapy.

"Physical therapist" means any person licensed by the Board to engage in the practice of physical therapy.

"Physical therapist assistant" means any person licensed by the Board to assist a physical therapist in the practice of physical therapy.

"Practice of physical therapy" means that branch of the healing arts that is concerned with, upon medical referral and direction, the evaluation, testing, treatment, reeducation and rehabilitation by physical, mechanical or electronic measures and procedures of individuals who, because of trauma, disease or birth defect, present physical and emotional disorders. The practice of physical therapy also includes the administration, interpretation, documentation, and evaluation of tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures within the scope of practice of the physical therapist. However, the practice of physical therapy does not include the medical diagnosis of disease or injury, the use of Roentgen rays and radium for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes or the use of electricity for shock therapy and surgical purposes including cauterization.

2000, c. 688; 2001, c. 858.

§ 54.1-3474. Unlawful to practice without license; continuing competency requirements.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to practice physical therapy or as a physical therapist assistant in the Commonwealth without a valid unrevoked license issued by the Board.

B. The Board shall promulgate regulations establishing requirements to ensure continuing competency of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, which may include continuing education, testing, or such other requirements as the Board may determine to be necessary.

C. In promulgating continuing competency requirements, the Board shall consider (i) the need to promote ethical practice, (ii) an appropriate standard of care, (iii) patient safety, (iv) application of new medical technology, (v) appropriate communication with patients, and (vi) knowledge of the changing health care system.

D. The Board may approve persons who provide or accredit programs to ensure continuing competency.

2000, c. 688; 2001, c. 858.

§ 54.1-3475. Board of Physical Therapy; appointment; qualifications; officers; nominations.

A. The Board of Physical Therapy shall regulate the practice of physical therapy and carry out the provisions of this chapter regarding the qualifications, examination, licensure and regulation of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants and shall have the general powers and duties of a health regulatory board pursuant to § 54.1-2400.

B. The Board shall be appointed by the Governor and shall be composed of seven members, five of whom shall be physical therapists who have been in active practice for at least seven years prior to appointment with at least three of such years in Virginia; one shall be a licensed physical therapist assistant; and one shall be a citizen member. Members shall be appointed for terms of four years and shall serve until their successors are appointed. The initial appointments shall provide for staggered terms with two members being appointed for a one-year term, two members being appointed for a two-year term, two members being appointed for a three-year term, and one member being appointed for a four-year term. Vacancies occurring other than by expiration of term shall be filled for the unexpired term. No person shall be eligible to serve on the Board for more than two successive full terms.

C. The Board shall annually elect a president and a vice-president.

D. Nominations for the professional members of the Board may be chosen by the Governor from a list of at least three names for each vacancy submitted by the Virginia Physical Therapy Association, Inc. The Governor may notify the Association of any professional vacancy other than by expiration of a term and nominations may be submitted by the Association. The Governor shall not be bound to make any appointments from among such nominees.

2000, c. 688.

§ 54.1-3476. Exemptions.

This chapter shall not apply to the performance of the duties of any commissioned or contract physical therapist or physical therapist assistant while practicing in the United States Armed Services, United States Public Health Service or United States Department of Veterans Affairs as based on requirements under federal regulations for state licensure of health care providers, or to a physical therapist or a physical therapist assistant licensed or certified and in good standing with the applicable regulatory agency in the state, District of Columbia, or Canada where the practitioner resides when the practitioner is in Virginia temporarily to practice for no longer than sixty days (i) in a summer camp or in conjunction with patients who are participating in recreational activities, (ii) in continuing education programs, or (iii) by rendering at any site any health care services within the limits of his license or certificate, voluntarily and without compensation, to any patient of any clinic which is organized in whole or in part for the delivery of health care services without charge as provided in § 54.1-106.

2000, c. 688.

§ 54.1-3477. Requirements for licensure as a physical therapist.

An applicant for licensure as a physical therapist shall submit evidence, verified by affidavit and satisfactory to the Board, that the applicant:

1. Is eighteen years of age or more;

2. Is a graduate of a school of physical therapy approved by the American Physical Therapy Association or is a graduate of a school outside of the United States or Canada which is acceptable to the Board; and

3. Has satisfactorily passed an examination approved by the Board.

2000, c. 688.

§ 54.1-3478. Requirements for licensure as a physical therapist assistant.

An applicant for licensure as a physical therapist assistant shall submit evidence, verified by affidavit and satisfactory to the Board, that the applicant:

1. Is 18 years of age or more;

2. Is a graduate of a two-year educational program for physical therapist assistants at an institution of higher education that is acceptable to the Board; and

3. Has satisfactorily passed an examination approved by the Board.

2000, c. 688.

§ 54.1-3479. Licensure by examination or endorsement; traineeships.

A. The Board shall provide for the examinations to be taken by applicants for licensure as physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. The Board shall, on the basis of such examinations, issue or deny licenses to applicants to practice physical therapy or perform the duties of a physical therapist assistant. Any applicant who feels aggrieved at the result of his examination may appeal to the Board.

B. The Board, in its discretion, may issue licenses to applicants upon endorsement by boards of other appropriate authorities of other states or territories or the District of Columbia with which reciprocal relations have not been established if the credentials of such applicants are satisfactory and the examinations and passing grades required by such other boards are determined to be equivalent to those required by the Virginia Board.

C. The Board, in its discretion, may provide for the limited practice of physical therapy by a graduate physical therapist or physical therapist assistant enrolled in a traineeship program as defined by the Board under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

D. In granting licenses to out-of-state applicants, the Board may require physical therapists or physical therapist assistants to meet the professional activity requirements or serve traineeships according to regulations promulgated by the Board.

2000, c. 688.

§ 54.1-3480. Refusal, revocation or suspension.

A. The Board may refuse to admit a candidate to any examination, may refuse to issue a license to any applicant, and may suspend for a stated period of time or indefinitely or revoke any license or censure or reprimand any person or place him on probation for such time as it may designate for any of the following causes:

1. False statements or representations or fraud or deceit in obtaining admission to the practice, or fraud or deceit in the practice of physical therapy;

2. Substance abuse rendering him unfit for the performance of his professional obligations and duties;

3. Unprofessional conduct as defined in this chapter;

4. Intentional or negligent conduct that causes or is likely to cause injury to a patient or patients;

5. Mental or physical incapacity or incompetence to practice his profession with safety to his patients and the public;

6. Restriction of a license to practice physical therapy in another state, the District of Columbia, a United States possession or territory, or a foreign jurisdiction;

7. Conviction in any state, territory or country of any felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude;

8. Adjudged legally incompetent or incapacitated in any state if such adjudication is in effect and the person has not been declared restored to competence or capacity; or

9. Conviction of an offense in another state, territory or foreign jurisdiction, which if committed in Virginia would be a felony. Such conviction shall be treated as a felony conviction under this section regardless of its designation in the other state, territory or foreign jurisdiction.

B. The Board shall refuse to admit a candidate to any examination and shall refuse to issue a license to any applicant if the candidate or applicant has had his certificate or license to practice physical therapy revoked or suspended, and has not had his certificate or license to so practice reinstated, in another state, the District of Columbia, a United States possession or territory, or a foreign jurisdiction.

2000, c. 688; 2001, c. 858; 2003, cc. 753, 762; 2004, c. 64.

§ 54.1-3480.1. Continuing education.

As a prerequisite to renewal of a license or reinstatement of a license, each physical therapist shall be required to take biennial courses relating to physical therapy as approved by the Board. The Board shall prescribe criteria for approval of courses of study and credit hour requirements. The Board may approve alternative courses upon timely application of any licensee. Fulfillment of education requirements shall be certified to the Board upon a form provided by the Board and shall be submitted by each licensed physical therapist at the time he applies to the Board for the renewal or reinstatement of his license. The Board may waive individual requirements in cases of certified illness or undue hardship.

2001, c. 315.

§ 54.1-3481. Unlawful designation as physical therapist or physical therapist assistant; penalty.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person who is not licensed under this chapter, or whose license has been suspended or revoked or who licensure has lapsed and has not been renewed, to use in conjunction with his name the letters or words "R.P.T.," "Registered Physical Therapist," "L.P.T.," "Licensed Physical Therapist," "P.T.," "Physical Therapist," "Physio-therapist," "P.T.T.," "Physical Therapy Technician," "P.T.A.," "Physical Therapist Assistant," "Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant," or to otherwise by letters, words, representations or insignias assert or imply that he is a licensed physical therapist. The title to designate a licensed physical therapist shall be "P.T." The title to designate a physical therapist assistant shall show such fact plainly on its face.

B. No person shall advertise services using the words "physical therapy" or "physiotherapy" unless those services are provided by a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant licensed pursuant to this chapter.

C. A complaint or report of a possible violation of this section by any person who is licensed, certified, registered, or permitted, or who holds a multistate licensure privilege issued by any of the health regulatory boards within the Department of Health Professions shall be referred to the applicable board within the Department for disciplinary action.

D. Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict or limit the legally authorized scope of practice of any profession licensed, certified, registered, permitted, or recognized under a multistate licensure privilege issued by any of the health regulatory boards within the Department of Health Professions prior to January 1, 2010.

2000, c. 688; 2010, cc. 70, 368.

§ 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 nurse practitioner 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 for no more than 30 consecutive days after an initial evaluation 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 nurse practitioner 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 nurse practitioner 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 nurse practitioner 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. Treatment for more than 30 consecutive days after evaluation of such patient shall only be upon the referral and direction of a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, or dental surgery, a licensed nurse practitioner practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957, or a licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician. A physical therapist may contact the practitioner identified by the patient at the end of the 30-day period to determine if the practitioner will authorize additional physical therapy services until such time as the patient can be seen by the practitioner. A physical therapist shall not perform an initial evaluation of a patient under this subsection if the physical therapist has performed an initial evaluation of the patient under this subsection for the same condition within the immediately preceding 60 days.

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 nurse practitioner 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 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 nurse practitioner practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957, or a licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician.

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 nurse practitioner 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) special education students who, by virtue of their individualized education plans (IEPs), need physical therapy services to fulfill the provisions of their IEPs; (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.

§ 54.1-3482.1. Certain certification required.

A. The Board shall promulgate regulations establishing criteria for certification of physical therapists to provide certain physical therapy services pursuant to subsection B of § 54.1-3482 without referral from a licensed doctor of medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, or dental surgery, a licensed nurse practitioner practicing in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-2957, or a licensed physician assistant acting under the supervision of a licensed physician. The regulations shall include but not be limited to provisions for (i) the promotion of patient safety; (ii) an application process for a one-time certification to perform such procedures; and (iii) minimum education, training, and experience requirements for certification to perform such procedures.

B. The minimum education, training, and experience requirements for certification shall include evidence that the applicant has successfully completed (i) a transitional program in physical therapy as recognized by the Board or (ii) at least three years of active practice with evidence of continuing education relating to carrying out direct access duties under § 54.1-3482.

2007, cc. 9, 18; 2015, cc. 724, 746; 2018, c. 776.

§ 54.1-3483. Unprofessional conduct.

Any physical therapist or physical therapist assistant licensed by the Board shall be considered guilty of unprofessional conduct if he:

1. Engages in the practice of physical therapy under a false or assumed name or impersonates another practitioner of a like, similar or different name;

2. Knowingly and willfully commits any act which is a felony under the laws of this Commonwealth or the United States, or any act which is a misdemeanor under such laws and involves moral turpitude;

3. Aids or abets, has professional contact with, or lends his name to any person known to him to be practicing physical therapy illegally;

4. Conducts his practice in such a manner as to be a danger to the health and welfare of his patients or to the public;

5. Is unable to practice with reasonable skill or safety because of illness or substance abuse;

6. Publishes in any manner an advertisement that violates Board regulations governing advertising;

7. Performs any act likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public;

8. Violates any provision of statute or regulation, state or federal, relating to controlled substances;

9. Violates or cooperates with others in violating any of the provisions of this chapter or regulations of the Board; or

10. Engages in sexual contact with a patient concurrent with and by virtue of the practitioner/patient relationship or otherwise engages at any time during the course of the practitioner/patient relationship in conduct of a sexual nature that a reasonable patient would consider lewd and offensive.

2000, c. 688; 2001, c. 858.

§ 54.1-3484. (Effective January 1, 2020) Criminal history background checks.

The Board shall require each applicant for licensure as a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant to submit fingerprints and provide personal descriptive information to be forwarded along with his fingerprints through the Central Criminal Records Exchange to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of obtaining criminal history record information regarding the applicant. The cost of fingerprinting and the criminal history record search shall be paid by the applicant.

The Central Criminal Records Exchange shall forward the results of the state and federal criminal history record search to the Board, which shall be a governmental entity. If an applicant is denied licensure because of information appearing on his criminal history record and the applicant disputes the information upon which the denial was based, the Central Criminal Records Exchange shall, upon written request, furnish to the applicant the procedures for obtaining a copy of the criminal history record from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Criminal Records Exchange. The information shall not be disseminated except as provided in this section.

2019, c. 300.

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