H-3312.2  _______________________________________________


                          HOUSE BILL 2590



State of Washington      57th Legislature     2002 Regular Session


By Representatives Ruderman, Cody, DeBolt, Veloria, Schual‑Berke and Kagi


Read first time 01/22/2002.  Referred to Committee on Health Care.

Modifying the scope of care provided by physical therapists.

    AN ACT Relating to physical therapy; amending RCW 18.74.005, 18.74.010, 18.74.012, and 18.74.030; and adding new sections to chapter 18.74 RCW.




    Sec. 1.  RCW 18.74.005 and 1983 c 116 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:

    ((In order to safeguard the public safety and welfare, to protect the public from being misled by incompetent, unethical, and unauthorized persons, and to assure the highest degree of professional conduct and competency, it is the purpose of this chapter to strengthen existing regulation of persons offering physical therapy services to the public.)) The purpose of this chapter is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, and to provide for state administrative control, supervision, licensure, and regulation of the practice of physical therapy.  It is the intent of the legislature that only individuals who meet and maintain prescribed standards of competence and conduct be allowed to engage in the practice of physical therapy as defined and authorized by this chapter.


    Sec. 2.  RCW 18.74.010 and 1997 c 275 s 8 are each amended to read as follows:

    ((Unless the context otherwise requires,)) The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

    (1) "Board" means the board of physical therapy created by RCW 18.74.020.

    (2) "Department" means the department of health.

    (3) "Physical therapy" means the ((treatment of any bodily or mental condition of any person by the use of the physical, chemical, and other properties of heat, cold, air, light, water, electricity, sound, massage, and therapeutic exercise, which includes posture and rehabilitation procedures; the performance of tests and measurements of neuromuscular function as an aid to the diagnosis or treatment of any human condition; performance of treatments on the basis of test findings after consultation with and periodic review by an authorized health care practitioner except as provided in RCW 18.74.012; supervision of selective forms of treatment by trained supportive personnel; and provision of consultative services for health, education, and community agencies.  The use of Roentgen rays and radium for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, the use of electricity for surgical purposes, including cauterization, and the use of spinal manipulation or manipulative mobilization of the spine and its immediate articulations, are not included under the term "physical therapy" as used in this chapter)) care and services provided by or under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist licensed by the state.  The use of spinal manipulation, or manipulative mobilization of the spine and its immediate articulations, are not included under the term "physical therapy" as used in this chapter.

    (4) "Physical therapist" means a person who ((practices physical therapy as defined in this chapter but does not include massage operators as defined in RCW 18.108.010)) meets all the requirements of this chapter and is licensed in this state to practice physical therapy.

    (5) "Secretary" means the secretary of health.

    (6) Words importing the masculine gender may be applied to females.

    (7) "Authorized health care practitioner" means and includes licensed physicians, osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, naturopaths, podiatric physicians and surgeons, dentists, and advanced registered nurse practitioners:  PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That nothing herein shall be construed as altering the scope of practice of such practitioners as defined in their respective licensure laws.

    (8) "Practice of physical therapy" is based on movement science and means:

    (a) Examining, evaluating, and testing individuals with mechanical, physiological, and developmental impairments, functional limitations in movement, and disability or other health and movement-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, plan of therapeutic intervention, and to assess and document the ongoing effects of intervention;

    (b) Alleviating impairments and functional limitations in movement by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions that include, but are not limited to, therapeutic exercise; movement-related functional training in self-care, in-home, community, or work reintegration; manual therapy including soft tissue and joint mobilization and manipulation; therapeutic massage; assistive, adaptive, protective, and supportive devices related to postural control and mobility; airway clearance techniques; physical agents or modalities; mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities; and patient-related instruction;

    (c) Training for, and the evaluation of, the function of a patient wearing an orthosis or prosthesis as defined in RCW 18.200.010.  Physical therapists may provide those direct-formed and prefabricated upper limb, knee, and ankle-foot orthoses, but not fracture orthoses except those for hand, wrist, ankle, and foot fractures, and assistive technology devices specified in RCW 18.200.010 as exemptions from the defined scope of licensed orthotic and prosthetic services.  It is the intent of the legislature that the unregulated devices specified in RCW 18.200.010 are in the public domain to the extent that they may be provided in common with individuals or other health providers, whether unregulated or regulated under Title 18 RCW, without regard to any scope of practice;

    (d) Performing wound debridement and wound management that includes sharp debridement, debridement with other agents, dry dressings, wet dressings, topical agents including enzymes, hydrotherapy, and other similar treatments.  Physical therapists may not delegate sharp debridement;

    (e) Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation, and disability related to movement, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in all age populations; and

    (f) Engaging in administration, consultation, education, and research.

    (9)(a) "Physical therapist assistant" means a person who performs physical therapy procedures and related tasks that have been selected and delegated only by the supervising physical therapist.

    (b) "Physical therapy aide" means a person trained under the direction of a physical therapist who performs designated and supervised routine physical therapy tasks.

    (c) "Other assistive personnel" means other trained or educated health care personnel, not defined in (a) or (b) of this subsection, who perform specific designated tasks related to physical therapy under the supervision of a physical therapist.  At the direction of the supervising physical therapist, and if properly credentialed and not prohibited by any other law, other assistive personnel may be identified by the title specific to their training or education.

    (10) "Restricted physical therapy license" means a license to which restrictions or conditions, or both, as to scope of practice, place of practice, supervision of practice, duration of licensed status, or type or condition of patient or client served are imposed by the board.

    (11) "On-site supervision" means the supervising physical therapist must (a) be continuously on-site and present in the department or facility where assistive personnel or holders of interim permits are performing services; (b) be immediately available to assist the person being supervised in the services being performed; and (c) maintain continued involvement in appropriate aspects of each treatment session in which a component of treatment is delegated to assistive personnel.


    Sec. 3.  RCW 18.74.012 and 2000 c 171 s 24 are each amended to read as follows:

    ((Notwithstanding the provisions of RCW 18.74.010(3),)) A consultation and periodic review by an authorized health care practitioner is not required for treatment of neuromuscular or musculoskeletal conditions((:  PROVIDED, That a physical therapist may only provide treatment utilizing orthoses that support, align, prevent, or correct any structural problems intrinsic to the foot or ankle by referral or consultation from an authorized health care practitioner)).


    Sec. 4.  RCW 18.74.030 and 1983 c 116 s 6 are each amended to read as follows:

    An applicant for a license as a physical therapist shall have the following minimum qualifications:

    (1) Be of good moral character; and

    (2) Have obtained either (a) a ((baccalaureate)) degree in physical therapy from an institution of higher learning approved by the board or (b) a ((baccalaureate)) degree from an institution of higher learning and a certificate or advanced degree from a school of physical therapy approved by the board.

    The applicant shall present proof of qualification to the board in the manner and on the forms prescribed by it.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5.  (1) It is unlawful for any person to practice or in any manner hold himself or herself out to practice physical therapy or designate himself or herself as a physical therapist, unless he or she is licensed in accordance with this chapter.

    (2) This chapter does not restrict persons licensed under any other law of this state from engaging in the profession or practice for which they are licensed, if they are not representing themselves to be physical therapists or providers of physical therapy.

    (3) The following persons are exempt from licensure as physical therapists under this chapter when engaged in the following activities:

    (a) A person who is pursuing a course of study leading to a degree as a physical therapist in an approved professional education program and is satisfying supervised clinical education requirements related to his or her physical therapy education while under on-site supervision of a licensed physical therapist;

    (b) A physical therapist while practicing in the United States armed services, United States public health service, or veterans administration as based on requirements under federal regulations for state licensure of health care providers; and

    (c) A physical therapist licensed in another United States jurisdiction, or a foreign-educated physical therapist credentialed in another country, performing physical therapy as part of teaching or participating in an educational seminar of no more than sixty days in a calendar year.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6.  (1) No person may practice or in any manner hold himself or herself out to be engaging in the practice of physical therapy or designate himself or herself as a physical therapist unless licensed as a physical therapist in accordance with this chapter.

    (2) A physical therapist licensed under this chapter is fully authorized to practice physical therapy as defined in this chapter.

    (3) A physical therapist shall refer persons under his or her care to appropriate health care practitioners if the physical therapist has reasonable cause to believe symptoms or conditions are present that require services beyond the scope of practice or when physical therapy is contraindicated.

    (4) Physical therapists shall adhere to the recognized standards of ethics of the physical therapy profession and as further established by rule.

    (5) A physical therapist may perform electroneuromyographic examinations for the purpose of testing neuromuscular function.

    (6)(a) A physical therapist licensed under this chapter may purchase, store, and administer medications such as hydrocortisone, fluocinonide, fluorimethane, silvadine, lidocaine magnesium sulfate, zinc oxide, and other similar medications, and may administer such other drugs or medications as prescribed by a physician.  A pharmacist who dispenses such drugs to a licensed physical therapist is not liable for any adverse reactions caused by any method of use by the physical therapist.

    (b) The secretary, after consultation with representatives of the physical therapy licensing board, the board of pharmacy, and the medical quality assurance commission, may adopt rules that authorize licensed physical therapists to purchase and use legend drugs and devices in addition to the drugs authorized in this chapter.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 7.  (1) Physical therapists are responsible for patient care given by assistive personnel under their supervision.  A physical therapist may delegate to assistive personnel and supervise selected acts, tasks, or procedures that fall within the scope of physical therapy practice but do not exceed the education or training of the assistive personnel.

    (2) Physical therapist assistants shall at all times be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist as further set forth in rule.

    (3) Physical therapy aides and other assistive personnel shall perform patient care activities under on-site supervision of a licensed physical therapist.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 8.  Sections 5 through 7 of this act are each added to chapter 18.74 RCW.


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