The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

February 19, 2014

Okla. House passes physical therapy referral bill

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma House passed legislation Wednesday that allows physical therapists to treat ailments without a prior referral from a doctor or other medical professional.

The House voted 68-21 for the legislation and sent it to the state Senate, where similar legislation is being considered.

The bill removes restrictions in current state law that require a doctor or other medical professional, such as a dentist or podiatrist, to refer a patient before a physical therapist can diagnosis and treat an ailment.

Rep. Arthur Hulbert, R-Fort Gibson, the bill’s author and himself a physical therapist, said allowing physical therapists to treat human ailments without referrals would lead to fewer unnecessary physician visits and help lower health care costs. Hulbert said 48 other states already have some form of direct access to physical therapists without physician referrals.

Opponents said physical therapists need physician oversight because they do not have the same level of education and training to reliably diagnose a patient’s disorder.

“You might have a pain in your arm and have a heart attack and think it’s just a pulled muscle,” said Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, whose husband is a physician.

Physical therapists are an important part of the medical team that includes a variety of allied health professionals, she said.

“But they are not the captain of the ship,” Peterson said. “They’re not trained to discover cancer.”

Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, also a doctor, described the bill as “an expansion of scope” for physical therapy professionals that should require them to receive the same level of education and training as doctors.

But another physician, Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, said he supported the bill and believed physical therapists “have a wonderful knowledge and get wonderful results.”

Cox disagreed that the measure would expand the scope of physical therapy practice because the legislation does not allow them to do anything more than they already do. Physical therapists primarily are concerned with impairments and improving mobility and movement through diagnosis and physical intervention.

Hulbert acknowledged that the training physical therapists receive is different than that of medical doctors.

“Physical therapists are not trying to be MDs,” he said. But Oklahoma ranks second in the nation in the level of restrictions on physical therapy practice and ranks among the worst in the nation in health outcomes for its citizens.

He said opponents of the bill had implied that removing the physician referral restriction would threaten patient safety.

“It is safe? Yes,” Hulbert said.

1
Text Only
National and world
  • Economic Recovery web.jpg U.S. economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier

    • Inflation is under control. Runaway price increases would be destructive. Low inflation can lay a foundation for growth.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast web.jpg Casualty numbers raise questions about Gaza war

    A Palestinian health official put the death toll at 695 and said more than 4,100 were wounded, with civilian casualties rising sharply since Israel sent tanks and troops into Gaza last week in its first ground operation in five years.
    Israel has not offered its own count, but Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said Wednesday that 210 Gaza militants were killed since the ground operation began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oil Train Fires web.jpg Stopping deadly oil train fires: New rules planned

    Accident investigators have complained for decades that older tank cars, known as DOT-111s, are too easily punctured or ruptured, spilling their contents when derailed. Since 2008, there have been 10 significant derailments in the U.S. and Canada in which crude oil has spilled from ruptured tank cars, often igniting and resulting in huge fireballs. The worst was a runaway oil train that exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic a year ago, killing 47 people.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Taiwan Plane Crash web.jpg Relatives fly to Taiwan plane crash site, 48 dead

    Penghu in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late Wednesday, authorities said. The plane was on a flight from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona Execution web.jpg Arizona inmate dies 2 hours after execution began

    Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office said Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flights Canceled Israel web.jpg Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Health overhaul web.jpg Dueling rulings: Courts split on health law clash

    But the split rulings don’t necessarily mean another trip to the Supreme Court for the Affordable Care Act.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Senate Georgia web.jpg Perdue defeats Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

    Tuesday night’s primary runoff win validates Perdue’s campaign as an outsider.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ODD Brooklyn Bridge M_Hass.jpg Police probing switch of flags on Brooklyn Bridge

    Video footage of the security breach shows the unidentified people walking on the bridge's footpath at about 3:10 a.m., and 20 minutes later the light on the bridge's Brooklyn tower flickers and goes dark. The same thing happens about 12 minutes later on the Manhattan tower.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Veterans Health_Hass.jpg Obama nominee McDonald pledges to ‘transform’ VA

    Robert McDonald cited problems with patient access to health care, transparency, accountability and integrity, among other issues, during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee over his nomination today.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

Featured Ads