"Physical therapy is not a subspecialty of the medical profession and physical therapists are not medical doctors; we are a separate profession that provides a unique service that physicians are unable and untrained to provide."

Letter to the AMA from the APTA, Dec 2009

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

British Physical Therapists Gain Prescribing Rights

"This is a truly historic day..."
The 51,000 British physical therapists (physiotherapists) can now become trained to independently prescribe medications to their patients.

They are the world's first physical therapists to be granted drug prescribing rights within their health care systems without needing a physician to sign the prescription.

"Once suitably trained, physiotherapists in the United Kingdom will be the first in the world to be able to independently prescribe medicines where clinically appropriate,such as painkillers and anti-inflammatories", said Earl Howe, the British Department of Health’s Under Secretary for Quality.
The decision would reduce a layer of bureaucracy and an unnecessary burden on doctors who have, until now, had to counter-sign prescriptions drawn up by physiotherapists who have been "supplementary prescribers" since 2006.

The response from the British medical profession has been overwhelmingly positive.

British physical therapists fought for 10 years to gain independent prescription rights.

I would like to see the same changes take place in the United States of America, however, I am doubtful that the American medical establishment would be as supportive of physical therapists as the British physicians seem to be.

Evidence that increased competition (possibly from physical therapists) drives down prices and increases quality of American healthcare would only be seen as reducing physician income.

Fear of lower physician salaries would draw political opposition from the American Medical Association.

Presumably, Great Britain's "administered price system" (similar to Medicare) is what allows physicians to support physical therapist prescription rights.

What do you think?

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Tim Richardson, PT owns a private practice at Medical Arts Rehabilitation, Inc in Palmetto, Florida. The clinic website is at MedicalArtsRehab.com.

Bulletproof Expert Systems: Clinical Decision Support for Physical Therapists in the Outpatient Setting is a manager's workbook with stories, checklists, charts, graphs, tables, and templates describing how you can use paper-based or computerized tools to improve your clinic's Medicare compliance, process adherence and patient outcomes.

Tim has implemented a computerized Clinical Decision Support (CDS) system in his clinic since 2006 that serves as a Reminder, Alerting, Prompting and Predicting CDS using evidence-based tests and measures.

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Consistent with the American Physical Therapy Association Vision Statement for Physical Therapy 2020, the American Physical Therapy Association supports exclusive physical therapist ownership and operation of physical therapy services.