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  • New Delaware PT Law Includes Telehealth, Dry Needling

    Delaware physical therapists (PTs) have a new scope of practice that includes telehealth, dry needling, and an updated definition of the practice of physical therapy now that a significantly revised PT licensing law has been signed by Gov Jack Markell. Markell signed the bill on August 12.

    Advocated for by the Delaware Physical Therapy Association, the legislation (HB 359) faced opposition from other provider groups, including acupuncturists who were opposed to the inclusion of dry needling in the new definition for physical therapy. In addition to the dry needling and telehealth provisions, the new law includes temporary exemptions to licensure for PTs licensed in another state who are in Delaware for educational purposes, accompanying travelling sports team or performance groups, or responding to declared emergencies.

    “The legislative process was very arduous, and I am grateful for all of our chapter members who attended hearings, met with legislators, and sent emails or made phone calls in support of HB 359," said George Edelman, PT, OCS, MTC, president of the Delaware Chapter, "We are thrilled that Delaware now has a physical therapy statute that reflects 21st century practice."

    "APTA congratulates our Delaware Chapter on this significant legislative achievement," said APTA President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, "Our vision of transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience begins with transforming our state licensure laws to ensure physical therapists can practice within their full scope."

    The Delaware State Examining Board of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers—the state's licensure board—is expected to begin work on developing board rules related to the new law this fall.


    • I want to commend the Delaware chapter of the APTA for bringing forth these changes. Expansion of scope of practice legislation is extremely difficulty and takes dedicated time and effort. I do want to point out something that might be a little misleading, particularly this comment. “We are thrilled that Delaware now has a physical therapy statute that reflects 21st century practice.” I did not read anything about changes to Delaware’s 30 day direct access provision. So before I make assumptions, was anything done with this? Delaware’s law stated “A physical therapist may treat an individual without a referral up to 30 days after which time a physician must be consulted.” To me consulted seems like you need to review the case with a physician so he or she can make sure you are doing your job correctly and not harming your patient after 30 days, regardless of whether they are improving or not. For this reason “informed” would reflect more contemporary practice as it does not reflect a need for the physician to review your case. It simply means “Hey I’m treating Joe Blow for his knee.” Maybe someone from Delaware can explain how “consulted” is handled without risking a complaint against your license. I can certainly see a physician argue, I never received a plan of care to review, you cannot continue treating until I sign off, and I need to see this patient before I review your plan. With 7 years of schooling, screening for medical referral as an entry level skill, no evidence of increased safety risks, and no evidence overutilization of services when direct access laws are in place, I find it very hard to believe that practice acts with direct access provisions reflect 21st century practice. Again complete congratulations to Delaware for enacting these changes; I do not want to take anything away from that. I just do not see how a practice act that does not include full autonomy can reflect 21st century practice. My two cents…………. Ryan

      Posted by Ryan J. Grella, PT, DPT, OCS on 8/23/2014 8:57 AM

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