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  • US Virgin Islands Gets Direct Access, Improved PT Practice Act

    Virgin Islanders will now have improved access to physical therapist (PT) services—and a much more effective physical therapy practice act—thanks to a new law signed by Governor John P. de Jongh Jr, on July 11.

    The new law, Act No. 760, allows for direct access to evaluation and treatment by a PT without a physician’s referral, and includes changes to the licensing law that protect the term "physical therapy" as an activity that can only be engaged in by a PT, among other improvements.

    Prior to the act's passage a physician referral was required for all PT services. The new law, which takes effect on October 9, 2014, allows for treatment without a referral for 45 days or 12 treatment visits.

    "It’s been a long time coming, but consumers will now have greater access to quality health care provided by physical therapists," said Virgin Islands APTA member Jerry Smith, PT, DPT, ATC. "These changes could not have happened without the work of the physical therapy community here."

    In addition to direct access, Act. No. 7620 also makes significant updates to the physical therapy practice act. Besides the protection of "physical therapy" as a term that can only describe the activities of PTs, the new law provides title protection for "DPT" and "doctor of physical therapy,” an updated definition for the practice of physical therapy, an expanded board of physical therapy, and revised qualifications for licensure.

    "APTA commends the work of the dedicated physical therapists in the US Virgin Islands who worked for many years to bring about these legislative changes," said APTA President Paul Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS. "Improved patient access to PT services continues to be a high priority for the profession and APTA."

    Earlier this year both Oklahoma and Michigan enacted direct access legislation. The new Oklahoma law goes into effect on November 1, and the Michigan law on January 1, 2015. All 50 states, DC, and now the US Virgin Islands have enacted laws allowing for direct access to evaluation and some level of treatment without a physician referral.

    Latest Workshop Helps Participants Refine 'Blueprint' for New Clinical Practice Guidelines

    Evidence-based practice resources for physical therapists (PTs) will continue to expand thanks to the work of APTA members who recently participated in an association-sponsored clinical practice guidelines (CPG) workshop. The 3-day event brought together 36 researchers from 10 sections to discuss 11 potential CPGs.

    The workshop was led by Sandra Kaplan, PT, PhD, and Joe Godges, PT, DPT, MA, OCS, and included a presentation of a CPG development methodology and discussion on how the methodology can be best applied to the PT profession. The gathering is part of a larger APTA strategic objective to reduce unwarranted variations in care and increase PT adherence to best practices.

    Now in its third year, the workshop brings together participants chosen in response to a call to sections to submit nominations for a guideline development group that had identified a clinical topic important to the practice of physical therapy. Topics selected were the ones that could be best addressed through CPGs, which are graded recommendations on best practice for a clinical question based on a systematic review and evaluation of the quality of the scientific literature. These clinical questions were focused on both specific conditions and treatment interventions.

    This year's workshop topics included aquatic intervention, falls prevention, management of patients in the ICU, diabetic foot ulcers, examination and intervention of children with developmental coordination disorder, hip fractures, rehabilitation after total knee arthroplasty, interventions to improve gait speed in patients with neurological conditions, postpartum pelvic girdle pain, postconcussion rehabilitation, and venous leg ulcers.

    In an APTA video dispatch, Kaplan explained that the workshops help CPG developers lay the groundwork for what can be a 2- to 4-year development process. "What we're doing is trying to provide the foundational understanding of what those [CPG development] processes are," she said. "By the end of this workshop, they walk away with a blueprint for how to move forward to produce one of these."

    "What's really exciting about these guidelines is that … for some of them, there are multiple sections coming together," added Godges. He believes PT-focused CPGs can play a "huge" part in helping APTA achieve its vision of transforming society. "I think they're a foundation of transforming patient care, and not only of transforming patient care, but of transforming education," he said, with the effects extending to payment and policy areas worldwide.

    CPGs can be found on PTNow, the association's resource for evidence-based practice. Resources for guideline development and APTA funded CPGs can be found at www.apta.org/CPG.

     2014 - July 25 - CPG Workgroup
    These CPG developers are helping PTs transform society
    through the establishment of best practices in a wide range of areas.