Yes. Physical therapists are educated at the post-baccalaureate level and receive extensive education and clinical training in the examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention of patient/clients with functional limitations, impairments and disabilities. All accredited entry-level physical therapist education programs currently culminate in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Physical therapists are qualified to recognize when a patient presents with signs and symptoms inconsistent or outside the scope and expertise of the physical therapist and when the patient should be referred to a physician. APTA’s Guide of Professional Conduct advocates that physical therapists should assist patients in receiving appropriate medical care when the physical therapist’s examination and evaluation reveals signs and symptoms inconsistent with a condition that can be appropriately treated with physical therapy or needs a physician’s care and expertise.
Professional liability insurers and the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy affirm that direct access does not jeopardize the health, safety, or welfare of the patient/clients. Health Providers Service Organization (HPSO), the leading carrier of professional liability insurance for physical therapists in the US, states, “Direct access is not a risk factor that we specifically screen for in the underwriting of our program nor do we charge a premium differential for physical therapists in direct access states. We currently have no specific underwriting concerns with respect to direct access for physical therapists.”