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Georgia Physical Therapy Unprofessional Conduct

The board shall have authority to refuse to grant or restore a license to an applicant or to discipline a physical therapist licensed upon a finding by the board that the licensee or applicant has:

Identified himself or herself as a doctor without also clearly informing the public of his or her professional credential as a physical therapist;

Performed physical therapy care and services without examination and evaluation of patients or clients in order to determine a physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of intervention, which, in the case of patients who have self-referred, means the physical therapist has:

  • Failed to refer the patient to a licensed physician or licensed dentist if at any time the physical therapist has reason to believe that the patient has symptoms or conditions that require treatment beyond the scope of practice of the physical therapist or, regardless of the patient's condition, if after twenty-one (21) days or eight (8) visits from the initiation of a physical therapy plan of intervention, the physical therapist has not received a referral from the patient's provider. The day and visit limitations shall not apply:
    • In the case of services provided for health promotion, wellness, fitness, or maintenance purposes, in which case the physical therapist shall refer a client seen for health promotion, wellness, fitness, or maintenance purposes to an appropriate individual licensed pursuant to Article 2 or 4 of Chapter 34 of Title 43 if the client exhibits or develops signs and symptoms beyond the scope of practice of the physical therapist;
    • In the case of a patient diagnosed within the previous nine months with a neuromuscular or developmental condition when the evaluation, treatment, or services are being provided for problems or symptoms associated with that previously diagnosed condition; or
    •  In the case of a patient diagnosed within the previous 90 days with a chronic musculoskeletal condition and noted by a current relevant document from an appropriate licensed health care provider;
  • Ordered radiology, performed surgery, ordered laboratory or body fluid testing, diagnosed disease, or practiced medicine;
  • Failed to provide each self-referred patient with a written disclosure that a physical therapy diagnosis is not a medical diagnosis by a physician or based on radiological imaging and that such services might not be covered by the patient's health plan or insurer;
  • Not satisfied the additional requirements for seeing a patient who has self referred, which shall include:
    • A doctorate in physical therapy or equivalent degree from an accredited institution plus two years of clinical practice experience;
    •  A doctorate in physical therapy or equivalent and:
    • Post graduate certification;
    • American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties Board Certification; or
    • Residency or fellowship training; or
    • Five years of clinical practice experience; or
  • Performed dry needling treatment interventions without consulting a licensed physician; or

Acted in a manner inconsistent with generally accepted standards of physical therapy practice, regardless of whether actual injury to a patient occurs, or failed to provide the expected minimal standard of patient or client management, which shall include that:

  • A physical therapist is fully responsible for managing all aspects of the physical therapy care of each patient. A physical therapist shall provide:
    • The initial evaluation, determination of physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of intervention and documentation of the initial evaluation;
    • Periodic reevaluation and documentation of findings for each patient; and
    • The documented episode of care for each patient, including the patient's response to the plan of intervention at the time of completion of the episode of care;
  • A physical therapist shall assure the qualifications of all physical therapist assistants and physical therapy aides under his or her direction and supervision;
  • For each patient on each date of service, a physical therapist shall provide all of the intervention that requires the education, skills, knowledge, and abilities of a physical therapist;
  • A physical therapist shall determine the use of physical therapist assistants and physical therapy aides to ensure the delivery of care that is safe, effective, and efficient. A physical therapist may use physical therapy aides for designated routine tasks. A physical therapy aide shall work under the supervision of a physical therapist;
  • A physical therapist shall communicate the overall plan of care with the patient or the patient's legally authorized representative;
  • A physical therapist's responsibility shall include accurate documentation and billing of the services provided;
  • A physical therapist shall adhere to the recognized standards for professional conduct and code of ethics of the physical therapy profession as established by rule; and
  • A physical therapist shall ensure that he or she has liability coverage either independently or provided by the entity by which he or she is employed.


The board shall have authority to refuse to grant or restore a license to an applicant or to discipline a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant licensed under this chapter or any antecedent law upon a finding by the board that the licensee or applicant has:

Displayed an inability or has become unable to practice as a physical therapist or as a physical therapist assistant with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness, use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material, or as a result of any mental or physical condition;

Been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude in the courts of this state; or the United States, or the conviction of an offense in another jurisdiction which if committed in this state would be deemed a felony. For the purpose of this Code section, a "conviction" shall include a finding or verdict of guilty, a plea of guilty, or a plea of nolo contendere in a criminal proceeding regardless of whether the adjudication of guilt or sentence is withheld or not entered thereon pursuant to the provisions of Code Sections 42-8-60 through 42-8-64, relating to first offenders, or any comparable rule or statute;

Knowingly made misleading, deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations to a patient, consumer, or other person or entity in connection with the practice of physical therapy or in any document connected therewith; practiced fraud or deceit or intentionally made any false statement in obtaining or attempting to obtain a license to practice physical therapy or as a physical therapist assistant; or made a false or deceptive biennial registration with the board;

Practiced physical therapy contrary to the statutes or to the rules and regulations of the board; knowingly aided, assisted, procured, or advised any person to practice physical therapy contrary to this Code section or to the rules and regulations of the board; or knowingly performed any act which in any way aids, assists, procures, advises, or encourages any unlicensed person to practice physical therapy;

Engaged in any unprofessional, unethical, deceptive, or deleterious conduct or practice harmful to the public, which conduct or practice need not have resulted in actual injury to any person; unprofessional conduct shall also include any departure from, or the failure to conform to, the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing physical therapy practice or the failure to comply with the code of ethics of the board;

Failed to report to the board any act or omission of a licensee or applicant or any other person which violates the provisions of this subsection; or

Divided fees or agreed to divide fees received for professional services with any person, firm, association, corporation, or other entity for bringing or referring a patient.

When the board finds that any person is unqualified to be granted a license or finds that any person should be disciplined the board may take any one or more of the following actions:

    • Refuse to grant or restore a license to an applicant;
    • Administer a public or private reprimand, but a private reprimand shall not be disclosed to any person except the licensee;
    • Suspend any license for a definite period;
    • Limit or restrict any license;
    • Revoke any license;
    • Condition the penalty or withhold formal disposition, upon the physical therapist's, physical therapist assistant's, or other person's submission to the care, counseling, or treatment of physicians or other professional persons, and the completion of such care, counseling, or treatment, as directed by the board; or
    • Impose a fine not to exceed $500.00 for each violation of law, rule, or regulation of the board.

Physical Therapy Assistants

The board shall have authority to refuse to grant or restore a license to an applicant or to discipline a physical therapist assistant licensed under this chapter upon a finding by the board that the licensee or applicant has:

    • Worked outside the supervision of a physical therapist;
    • Failed to provide accurate documentation or billing of services provided;
    • Failed to adhere to the recognized standards of ethical conduct and code of ethics as established by rule; or
    • Acted in a manner inconsistent with generally accepted standards of the physical therapist assistant's scope of work, regardless of whether actual injury to the patient occurs.

    Citation

    O.C.G.A ยง 43-33-18

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