No, you don't need a referral from a doctor to attend physical therapy. However, if you have a letter of recommendation, take it to your initial appointment. If your physical therapy treatment will be covered by WorkCover or DVA, then a referral is necessary. You don't need to see your doctor before seeing a physical therapist.
However, it is good to see your doctor to discuss options and get a referral. YES, you can see a physical therapist without a referral from your family doctor. If you have private health insurance, most clinics have a machine where you swipe your private health insurance card and you only pay the GAP. Can a physiotherapist send a referral to a specialist in Australia? This is a question that many people may be asking themselves.
The short answer is NO, a physiotherapist cannot send a referral to a specialist in Australia. However, there are a few things you should know about references before you can understand how they work. Physical therapists are primary health professionals and, therefore, you don't need a referral from a GP to attend. All you have to do is call and make an appointment.
However, in many cases, your family doctor may refer you for treatment for a specific condition that you have identified. The physical therapist will write a comprehensive medical history to confirm the diagnosis and then recommend a care and exercise plan to help you achieve your health goals. When a physical therapist diagnoses conditions or illnesses outside their scope of practice, or referrals are made to GP patients who need ongoing care, the practice is not in a practice area like yours. We successfully defended the physiotherapist in the investigation, establishing that the circumstances facing the patient were emergencies and, in such circumstances, the physiotherapist was obliged to provide treatment to the patient, despite the lack of a medical referral.
You may be referred to physical therapy after surgery on your hip or after having a stroke or heart attack. The fact that you don't need a referral from your family doctor means physical therapists are part of your primary care team. Physical therapists should remind their patients of the requirement to provide a physician referral letter and conduct a thorough evaluation before emergency treatment is provided and patient consent is taken. Direct referral of patients by physiotherapists to specialists should be allowed on a case-by-case basis.
Until Medicare changes its GPD referral rule and guidelines, I am afraid that unnecessary visits will continue to be the order of the day in Australia. A physical therapist can write a referral and a surgeon can schedule the appointment, but the general question of funding dictates its credibility and validity. The Hong Kong Board of Physiotherapists (the Board) recently conducted a disciplinary investigation with respect to a physical therapist who had provided treatment to a patient without a referral from a doctor. Outpatient care can be accessed in physical therapists' offices instead of referrals from health care providers.
All of these must be properly and clearly documented in the records and in a request for a reference letter to be provided. Some programs, in all circumstances, can be provided free of charge if a referral is provided to a doctor or nurse practitioner.