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  • Standards of Practice Recognize Ongoing PT-Patient Relationship

    "Discharge" is being discharged from the physical therapy profession's lexicon as the term to describe conclusion of an episode of care, per revisions to the House of Delegates "Standards of Practice for Physical Therapy." Adopted changes to Section III of the Standards of Practice acknowledge that physical therapists (PTs) develop long-term professional relationships with their patients/clients that may stretch over many years throughout the continuum of the patient's/client's lifespan. Rather than "discharging" a patient, PTs conclude an episode of care, with the possibility of future services and fostering a professional patient/client relationship.

    Specific areas that this culture shift addresses include but aren't limited to:

    • Wellness and prevention visits without the presence of disease or illness
    • Single-visit follow-ups after an episode of care to ensure patient adherence and progress
    • Single visits or a brief series of visits outside the historical pattern of referral for a finite series of visits
    • Intermittent care of patients/clients with chronic conditions

    APTA staff will incorporate "episode of care" and related terms into its publications, documents, and communications as materials go through planned review and revision cycles and will encourage adoption of the terminology as appropriate to members and external constituents.

    Similarly, APTA will consider when to use "physical therapist services" or "physical therapist practice"' as the preferred terms when referring to the provision of physical therapy, as opposed to "physical therapy services" or "physical therapy practice." Staff will incorporate these terms, as appropriate, into materials during planned review and revision cycles. [RC 17-13, RC 18-13, RC 21-13]

    Draft language adopted by the 2013 House of Delegates will be available on the House Community no later than July 12. Final language for all actions taken by the June 2013 House will be available by September after the minutes have been approved.

    See more results of the 2013 House of Delegates by following this link, or click on July 9 from the News Now calendar.


    • the private practitioner is getting his fiscal ass kicked by insurers like Medicare (Highmark), Aetna, Cigna, UHC cutting reimbursements, as well as dramatic increases in co pays, deductibles and coinsurance which have drastically deterred utilization, not to mention the impending demise of the private practitioner as a result of ACOs (if mandated), and our profession is deliberating on what to call a patient who has been discharged? Great. Why do I never read about my profession's leadership fighting for equitable reimbursements for our services? Instead I hear about how the system is broken and we’re part of the problem. ..and you wonder why you struggle to get private practice folks to join the APTA…

      Posted by jack parry on 7/13/2013 11:15 AM

    • Replacing "discharge" with "episode of care" does not describe where the patient is in their treatment process. What would be the recommended term be to report why the therapist will no longer be seeing the patient? Discharge is not Final. It does not mean a therapist will never see a patient again. A concisely written discharge indicates what future plans are for the patient. Does Medicare and CMS plan to discontinue the tern "discharge status" from Functional Limitations reporting?

      Posted by Diana Echert on 7/14/2013 12:07 PM

    • "Concluding an episode of care" instead of "discharging a case" is as ridiculous as Vision 2020 and the DPT program. I have owned and work as a PT in private practice for 13 yrs. and I have seen a drastic decrease in visit numbers and reimbursement while having to pay for specialty computer programs to handle all the new requirements set by Medicare. Why isn't APTA working to make reimbursement fair for the time required by private practice PTs?

      Posted by Michael Shiver on 7/17/2013 5:53 PM

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