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New Law: Physical therapy changes

Published (4/25/2008)
By Patty Ostberg
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Licensed health care professionals and physical therapists will see definition and licensure changes, under a new law signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty April 17.

Sponsored by Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), the law defines a licensed health care professional or licensed health care provider as “a person licensed in good standing in Minnesota to practice medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry, dentistry, or advanced practice nursing.”

The law is effective Aug 1, 2008.

Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) said the change allows “in a common sense way” physical therapy treatment to continue without having to go back to a primary care doctor and pay an additional co-pay.

Physical therapists will be licensed to treat a patient for an initial period of 90 days, an extension from the 30 days in current law. Physical therapists will also be able to continue to treat patients with a referral from certain advanced practice nurses made in collaboration with a physician, chiropractor, podiatrist or dentist. The 90-day limitation would not apply to prevention, wellness, education or exercise.

Physical therapists licensed less than one year will be prohibited from treating a patient without a referral, under the new law. They will also be required to practice one year with a physical therapist who has more than one year of experience, or under a physician’s orders or referrals as verified by the board’s records.

The Board of Physical Therapy is required to report to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2010, any disciplinary actions taken against physical therapists whose conduct resulted in physical harm to a patient, but only if that conduct was a result of the changes made in this law.

The law repeals several provisions including definitions of “licensed health care professional” and “initiation of treatment.”


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