Code Section Group

Business and Professions Code - BPC

DIVISION 2. HEALING ARTS [500 - 4999.129]

  ( Division 2 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 399. )

CHAPTER 5.7. Physical Therapy [2600 - 2696]

  ( Chapter 5.7 added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 1826. )

ARTICLE 2. Scope of Regulation and Exemptions [2620 - 2634]
  ( Heading of Article 2 amended by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 20. )

2620.
  

(a) Physical therapy means the art and science of physical or corrective rehabilitation or of physical or corrective treatment of any bodily or mental condition of any person by the use of the physical, chemical, and other properties of heat, light, water, electricity, sound, massage, and active, passive, and resistive exercise, and shall include physical therapy evaluation, treatment planning, instruction and consultative services. The practice of physical therapy includes the promotion and maintenance of physical fitness to enhance the bodily movement related health and wellness of individuals through the use of physical therapy interventions. The use of roentgen rays and radioactive materials, for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, and the use of electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization, are not authorized under the term “physical therapy” as used in this chapter, and a license issued pursuant to this chapter does not authorize the diagnosis of disease.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict or prohibit other healing arts practitioners licensed or registered under this division from practice within the scope of their license or registration.

(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 117, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2005.)

2620.1.
  

(a) In addition to receiving those services authorized by Section 2620, a person may initiate physical therapy treatment directly from a licensed physical therapist if the treatment is within the scope of practice of physical therapists, as defined in Section 2620, and all of the following conditions are met:

(1) If, at any time, the physical therapist has reason to believe that the patient has signs or symptoms of a condition that requires treatment beyond the scope of practice of a physical therapist or the patient is not progressing toward documented treatment goals as demonstrated by objective, measurable, or functional improvement, the physical therapist shall refer the patient to a person holding a physician and surgeon’s certificate issued by the Medical Board of California or by the Osteopathic Medical Board of California or to a person licensed to practice dentistry, podiatric medicine, or chiropractic.

(2) The physical therapist shall comply with Section 2633, and shall disclose to the patient any financial interest he or she has in treating the patient and, if working in a physical therapy corporation, shall comply with Article 6 (commencing with Section 650) of Chapter 1.

(3) With the patient’s written authorization, the physical therapist shall notify the patient’s physician and surgeon, if any, that the physical therapist is treating the patient.

(4) The physical therapist shall not continue treating the patient beyond 45 calendar days or 12 visits, whichever occurs first, without receiving, from a person holding a physician and surgeon’s certificate from the Medical Board of California or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California or from a person holding a certificate to practice podiatric medicine from the California Board of Podiatric Medicine and acting within his or her scope of practice, a dated signature on the physical therapist’s plan of care indicating approval of the physical therapist’s plan of care. Approval of the physical therapist’s plan of care shall include an in-person patient examination and evaluation of the patient’s condition and, if indicated, testing by the physician and surgeon or podiatrist.

(b) The conditions in paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) do not apply to a physical therapist when he or she is only providing wellness physical therapy services to a patient as described in subdivision (a) of Section 2620.

(c) (1) This section does not expand or modify the scope of practice for physical therapists set forth in Section 2620, including the prohibition on a physical therapist diagnosing a disease.

(2) This section does not restrict or alter the scope of practice of any other health care professional.

(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a health care service plan, insurer, workers’ compensation insurance plan, employer, or state program to provide coverage for direct access to treatment by a physical therapist.

(e) When a person initiates physical therapy treatment services directly, pursuant to this section, the physical therapist shall not perform physical therapy treatment services without first providing the following notice to the patient, orally and in writing, in at least 14-point type and signed by the patient:

 

“Direct Physical Therapy Treatment Services

 

You are receiving direct physical therapy treatment services from an individual who is a physical therapist licensed by the Physical Therapy Board of California.

Under California law, you may continue to receive direct physical therapy treatment services for a period of up to 45 calendar days or 12 visits, whichever occurs first, after which time a physical therapist may continue providing you with physical therapy treatment services only after receiving, from a person holding a physician and surgeon’s certificate issued by the Medical Board of California or by the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, or from a person holding a certificate to practice podiatric medicine from the California Board of Podiatric Medicine and acting within his or her scope of practice, a dated signature on the physical therapist’s plan of care indicating approval of the physical therapist’s plan of care and that an in-person patient examination and evaluation was conducted by the physician and surgeon or podiatrist.

Patient’s Signature/Date”


(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 620, Sec. 4. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2620.3.
  

A physical therapist licensed pursuant to this chapter may apply topical medications as part of the practice of physical therapy as defined in Section 2620 if he or she complies with regulations duly adopted by the board pursuant to this section and the Administrative Procedure Act. The board shall adopt regulations implementing this section after meeting and conferring with the Medical Board of California and the California State Board of Pharmacy specifying those topical medications applicable to the practice of physical therapy and protocols for their use. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a physical therapist to prescribe medications.

(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 829, Sec. 19. Effective January 1, 1997.)

2620.5.
  

A physical therapist may, upon specified authorization of a physician and surgeon, perform tissue penetration for the purpose of evaluating neuromuscular performance as a part of the practice of physical therapy, as defined in Section 2620, provided the physical therapist is certified by the board to perform the tissue penetration and evaluation and provided the physical therapist does not develop or make diagnostic or prognostic interpretations of the data obtained. Any physical therapist who develops or makes a diagnostic or prognostic interpretation of this data is in violation of the Medical Practice Act (Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 2000) of Division 2), and may be subject to all of the sanctions and penalties set forth in that act.

The board, after meeting and conferring with the Division of Licensing of the Medical Board of California, shall do all of the following:

(a) Adopt standards and procedures for tissue penetration for the purpose of evaluating neuromuscular performance by certified physical therapists.

(b) Establish standards for physical therapists to perform tissue penetration for the purpose of evaluating neuromuscular performance.

(c) Certify physical therapists meeting standards established by the board pursuant to this section.

(Added by Stats. 2000, Ch. 427, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2001.)

2620.7.
  

(a) Patient records shall be documented as required in regulations promulgated by the board.

(b) Patient records shall be maintained for a period of no less than seven years following the discharge of the patient, except that the records of unemancipated minors shall be maintained at least one year after the minor has reached 18 years of age, and not in any case less than seven years.

(Amended by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 21. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2621.
  

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as authorizing a physical therapist to practice medicine, surgery, or any other form of healing except as authorized by Section 2620.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1968, Ch. 1284.)

2622.
  

(a) A physical therapist shall be responsible for managing all aspects of the care of each patient as set forth in regulations promulgated by the board.

(b) A physical therapist shall not supervise more than two physical therapist assistants at one time to assist the physical therapist in his or her practice of physical therapy.

(c) A physical therapist may utilize the services of one aide engaged in patient-related tasks to aid the physical therapist in his or her practice of physical therapy.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 23. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2623.
  

The board may, by regulation, prescribe, amend, or repeal any rules contained within a code of professional conduct appropriate to the establishment and maintenance of integrity and dignity in the profession of physical therapy. Every licensee of the board shall be governed and controlled by the rules and standards adopted by the board.

(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 24. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2630.
  

It is unlawful for any person or persons to practice, or offer to practice, physical therapy in this state for compensation received or expected, or to hold himself or herself out as a physical therapist, unless at the time of so doing the person holds a valid, unexpired, and unrevoked physical therapist license issued under this chapter, except as authorized by subdivisions (c), (d), (e), and (g) of Section 2630.5.

(Amended by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 26. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2630.3.
  

(a) A licensed physical therapist assistant holding a valid, unexpired, and unrevoked physical therapist assistant license may assist in the provision of physical therapy services only under the supervision of a physical therapist licensed by the board. A licensed physical therapist shall at all times be responsible for the extent, kind, quality, and documentation of all physical therapy services provided by the physical therapist assistant.

(b) It is unlawful for any person or persons to hold himself or herself out as a physical therapist assistant, unless at the time of so doing the person holds a valid, unexpired, and unrevoked physical therapist assistant license issued under this chapter, except as authorized in subdivisions (f) and (g) of Section 2630.5.

(c) Physical therapist assistants shall not be independently supervised by a physical therapist license applicant, as defined in Section 2639, or a physical therapist student, as defined in Section 2633.7.

(d) A physical therapist assistant shall not perform any evaluation of a patient or prepare a discharge summary. The supervising physical therapist shall determine which elements of the treatment plan, if any, shall be assigned to the physical therapist assistant. Assignment of patient care shall be commensurate with the competence of the physical therapist assistant.

(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 27. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2630.4.
  

(a) A “physical therapy aide” is an unlicensed person, at least 18 years of age, who aids a licensed physical therapist consistent with subdivision (b).

(b) The aide shall at all times be under the supervision of the physical therapist. An aide shall not independently perform physical therapy or any physical therapy procedure. The board shall adopt regulations that set forth the standards and requirements for the supervision of an aide by a physical therapist.

(c) Physical therapy aides shall not be independently supervised by a physical therapist license applicant, as defined in Section 2639, or a physical therapist student, as defined in Section 2633.7.

(d) This section does not prohibit the administration by a physical therapy aide of massage, external baths, or normal exercise not a part of a physical therapy treatment.

(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 28. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2630.5.
  

The following persons are exempt from the licensure requirements of this chapter when engaged in the following activities:

(a) A regularly matriculated physical therapist student undertaking a course of professional instruction in an approved entry-level physical therapy education program or enrolled in a program of supervised clinical education under the direction of an approved physical therapy education program as described in Section 2651. These physical therapist students may perform physical therapy as a part of their course of study.

(b) A regularly matriculated physical therapist assistant student undertaking a course of instruction in an approved physical therapy education program or enrolled in a program of supervised clinical education under the direction of an approved physical therapy education program as described in Section 2651. These physical therapist assistant students may perform physical therapy techniques as a part of their course of study.

(c) A physical therapist who holds a valid and unrestricted license in another jurisdiction of the United States or who is credentialed to practice physical therapy in another country if that person is researching, demonstrating, or providing physical therapy in connection with teaching or participating in an educational seminar of no more than 60 days in a calendar year.

(d) A physical therapist located outside this state, when in actual consultation, whether within this state or across state lines, with a licensed physical therapist of this state, or when he or she is an invited guest of the American Physical Therapy Association or one of its components, or an invited guest of an approved physical therapy school or college for the sole purpose of engaging in professional education through lectures, clinics, or demonstrations, if, at the time of the consultation, lecture, or demonstration, he or she holds a valid and unrestricted physical therapist license in the state or country in which he or she resides. The physical therapist shall not open an office, appoint a place to meet patients, receive calls from patients within the limits of this state, give orders, or have ultimate authority over the care of a physical therapy patient who is located within this state.

(e) A physical therapist who holds a valid and unrestricted license in another jurisdiction of the United States or credentialed to practice physical therapy in another country if that person, by contract or employment, is providing physical therapy to individuals affiliated with or employed by established athletic teams, athletic organizations, or performing arts companies temporarily practicing, competing, or performing in the state for no more than 60 days in a calendar year.

(f) A physical therapist assistant who holds a valid and unrestricted license in another jurisdiction of the United States and is assisting a physical therapist engaged in activities described in subdivision (c), (d), or (e).

(g) A physical therapist or physical therapist assistant who has a valid and unrestricted license in a jurisdiction of the United States who is forced to leave his or her residence in a state other than California due to a governmentally declared emergency. This exemption applies for no more than 60 days following the declaration of the emergency. In order to be eligible for this exemption, the physical therapist or physical therapist assistant shall notify the board of his or her intent to practice in this state and provide a valid mailing address, telephone number, and email address.

(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 29. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2633.
  

(a) A person holding a license as a physical therapist issued by the board may use the title “physical therapist” or the letters “P.T.” or any other words, letters, or figures that indicate that the person using same is a licensed physical therapist. No other person shall be so designated or shall use the term licensed or registered physical therapist, licensed or registered physiotherapist, licensed or registered physical therapy technician, or the letters “L.P.T.,” “R.P.T.,” or “P.T.”.

(b) A licensed physical therapist who has received a doctoral degree in physical therapy (DPT) or, after adoption of the regulations described in subdivision (d), a doctoral degree in a related health science may do the following:

(1) In a written communication, use the initials DPT, PhD, or EdD, as applicable, following the licensee’s name.

(2) In a written communication, use the title “Doctor” or the abbreviation “Dr.” preceding the licensee’s name, if the licensee’s name is immediately followed by an unabbreviated specification of the applicable doctoral degree held by the licensee.

(3) In a spoken communication while engaged in the practice of physical therapy, use the title “doctor” preceding the person’s name, if the speaker specifies that he or she is a physical therapist.

(c) A doctoral degree described in subdivision (b) shall be granted by an institution accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or by an accrediting agency recognized by the National Commission on Accrediting or the United States Department of Education that the board determines is equivalent to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

(d) The board shall define, by regulation, the doctoral degrees that are in a related health science for purposes of subdivision (b).

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 222, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

2633.5.
  

(a) Only a person licensed as a physical therapist assistant by the board may use the title “physical therapist assistant” or “physical therapy assistant” or the letters “PTA” or any other words, letters, or figures that indicate that the person is a physical therapist assistant licensed pursuant to this chapter.

(b) The license of a physical therapist assistant shall not authorize the use of the prefix “LPT,” “RPT,” “PT,” or “Dr.,” or the title “physical therapist,” “therapist,” “doctor,” or any affix indicating or implying that the physical therapist assistant is a physical therapist or doctor.

(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 31. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2633.7.
  

During a period of clinical practice described in Section 2650 or in any similar period of observation of related educational experience involving recipients of physical therapy, a person so engaged shall be identified only as a “physical therapist student” or a “physical therapist assistant student,” as authorized by the board in its regulations.

(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 389, Sec. 32. Effective January 1, 2014.)

2634.
  

The board may investigate each and every applicant for a license, before a license is issued, in order to determine whether or not the applicant has in fact the qualifications required by this chapter.

(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 829, Sec. 24. Effective January 1, 1997.)

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