Physical therapy has long been an integral part of the scope of services provided by orthopaedic surgeons. In fact, the physical therapist profession arose from the initiatives of orthopaedists - who recognized the need for individuals with skills in exercise and rehabilitation - to maximize patient recovery and rehabilitation.
Physician-owned physical therapy services (POPTS) foster a cohesive, team approach to care, which translates to accessible, high-quality treatment centered around the needs and best interests of the patient. Despite the distinct benefits that having the choice to use in-office PT provides to patients, national physical therapist groups continue to spearhead a strategic and aggressive campaign in an effort to prohibit or limit POPTS.
These attempts also impact PTs who should have the freedom to seek employment as they choose (whether with a physician or not), and not have their career choices restrained by unnecessary government intervention. Even physicians who do not employ PTs or have an ownership interest in a physical therapy service should see this as a critical issue - one that encroaches on the ability of orthopaedic surgeons to deliver the best care possible, and limits patient access and choice.
The AAOS believes that patients should have access to quality, comprehensive and non-fragmented care. Doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, Physical Therapists and other health practitioners work together, often in the same office, to provide comprehensive care to patients. Separation of these services would only serve to disrupt a patient's treatment and further inconvenience them.
The AAOS also believes that Physician Owned Physical Therapy Services should continue to be an alternative for patients. Patients should be given the ability to choose the site of care. Physicians employing Physical Therapists should communicate to the patient their financial interest in any physical therapy practice prior to referring the patient to the site. The physician should also discuss possible alternate sites for physical therapy services. In all instances, the AAOS believes that the best interest of the patient should be foremost when referring a patient for physical therapy services.
APTA POPTS Materials