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California Physical Therapy Aides

A physical therapy aide is an unlicensed person who may be utilized by a physical therapist in his or her practice by performing non-patient related tasks, or by performing patient related tasks.

What can an aide do?

A “patient related task” means a physical therapy service rendered directly to the patient by an aide, excluding non-patient related tasks.

A “non-patient related task” means a task related to observation of the patient, transport of patients, physical support only during gait or transfer, housekeeping duties, clerical duties and similar functions.

What is an aide expressly prohibited from doing?

An aide shall not independently perform physical therapy or any physical therapy procedure.

What are the responsibilities of the PT when delegating to an aide?

Prior to the aide providing patient related care, a physical therapist shall evaluate and document, the aide's competency level for performing the patient related task that the aide will provide in that setting. The record of competencies shall be made available to the board or any physical therapist utilizing that aide upon request.

The physical therapist shall be responsible at all times for the conduct of the aide while the aide is performing “patient related tasks” and “non-patient related tasks”.

What type of supervision is required?

“Under the orders, direction and immediate supervision”

The physical therapist shall provide continuous and immediate supervision of the aide. The physical therapist shall be in the same facility as the aide and in immediate proximity to the location where the aide is performing patient related tasks. The physical therapist shall be readily available at all times to provide immediate advice, instruction or intervention in the care of the patient. When patient related tasks are provided to a patient by an aide the physical therapist shall at some point during the treatment day provide direct service to the patient as treatment for the patient's condition or to further evaluate and monitor the patient's progress.

In order to provide direction to the physical therapy aide, the supervising physical therapist would have to be near or close enough to provide advice or instruction instantly and without delay. While this may not require sharing the same treatment room with the physical therapy aide it does require the supervising physical therapist to be within an audible range that would ensure the instant presence of the supervising physical therapist.

Can an aide be supervised by a physical therapy student or graduate?

No.

Physical therapy aides shall not be independently supervised by a physical therapist license applicant or a physical therapist student.

What is the ratio between supervising PTs and aides?

A physical therapist may utilize the services of one (1) aide engaged in patient-related tasks to aid the physical therapist in his or her practice of physical therapy.

Identification requirements for aides

Each supervising licensed physical therapist shall require all physical therapy aides performing patient related tasks under his or her supervision to display while working his or her name and working title on a name tag in at least 18-point type.

Can athletic trainers be utilized as aides?

An athletic trainer is not regulated by the State of California; however, if the athletic trainer is doing physical therapy modalities for the purpose of physical therapy, the athletic trainer is working in the capacity of a physical therapy aide and must adhere to the supervision requirements as defined in the laws and regulations governing the practice of physical therapy.

Practice Issues: Athletic Trainers in the Realm of Physical Therapy

Citation

Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §2622

Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §2630.4

16 CCR § 1399

16 CCR § 1398.11



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