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Direct Access to PT Updated 2016
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Effective March 23, 2016, Governor Rick Scott signed SB 450 into law. Florida Statutes –Chapter 486.021 (11) has been substantially modernized increasing patient access to physical therapists. Additionally, Florida Statutes – Chapter 486.135 & 486.151 have been modernized defining the title Doctor of Physical Therapy.

In summary, the new law changes the following:

  • The new law modernizes the Physical Therapy Practice Act by expanding direct access from the current 21 days to 30 days;
  • Removing barriers to maintaining direct access and continuity of care for patients from outside the state of Florida, with an order from a physician licensed in another state;
  • Adding definitions in the PT Practice Act ensuring protections for term and title of Doctor of Physical Therapy.

 Download the Florida Department of Health's statement on these changes at this link (pdf).


Direct Access

Florida Statutes – Chapter 486.021 (11) (a)

(a) A physical therapist may implement a plan of treatment developed by the physical therapist for a patient or for a patient by a practitioner of record or by an advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under s. 464.012. A physical therapist shall refer the patient to or consult with a practitioner of record if the patient’s condition is found to be outside the scope of the physical therapy. If physical therapy treatment of a patient is required beyond (30) days for a condition not previously assessed by a practitioner of record, the physical therapist shall have a practitioner of record review and sign the plan. The requirement that a physical therapist have a practitioner of record review and sign a plan of treatment does not apply when a patient has been physically examined by a physician licensed in another state, the patient has been diagnosed by the physician as having a condition for which the physical therapy is required, and the physical therapist is treating the condition. For purposes of this paragraph a health care practitioner licensed under chapter 458 (Medical Doctors and Physician Assistants), chapter 459 (Osteopathic Physicians), chapter 460 (Chiropractors), chapter 461 (Podiatrists), chapter 466 (Dentistry) and engaged in active practice is eligible to serve as a practitioner of record.

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Title Protection

Florida Statutes – Chapter 486.135 & 486.151

Chapter 486.081 (1) … Any person who holds a license pursuant to this section may use the words “physical therapist” or “physiotherapist,” or the letters “P.T.,” in connection with her license hereunder. A person who holds a license pursuant to this section and obtains a doctoral degree in physical therapy may use the letters “D.P.T.” and “P.T.” AS physical therapist who holds a degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy may not use the title “doctor” without also clearly informing the public of his or her profession as a physical therapist.

Chapter 486.135 (1) (b) - It is unlawful for a person who is not licensed under this chapter as a physical therapist and who does not hold a doctoral degree in physical therapy to use the letters “D.P.T.” in connection with his or her name or place of business.

Chapter 486.151 (1) It is unlawful for any person to: (d) – Use the name or title “Physical Therapist” or “Physical Therapist Assistant” or any other name or title which would lead the public to believe that the person using the title is licensed to practice physical therapy, unless such person holds a valid license, or use the letters “D.P.T.,” unless such person holds a valid license under this chapter and a doctoral degree in physical therapy.
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