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Illinois PT Referrals and Direct Access

Is a referral required to provide PT services?

No. A physical therapist may provide physical therapy services to a patient with or without a referral from a health care professional.

A physical therapist providing services without a referral from a health care professional must notify the patient's treating health care professional within five (5) business days after the patient's first visit that the patient is receiving physical therapy. This does not apply to physical therapy services related to fitness or wellness, unless the patient presents with an ailment or injury.

Which professions can issue the referral?

"Referral" means a written or oral authorization for physical therapy services for a patient by a:

    • Physician,
    • Dentist,
    • Advanced practice registered nurse,
    • Physician assistant, or
    • Podiatric physician

The referring practitioner must maintain medical supervision of the patient and makes a diagnosis or verifies that the patient's condition is such that it may be treated by a physical therapist.

When does a PT have to refer a patient to a physician?

A physical therapist shall refer a patient to the patient's treating health care professional of record or, in the case where there is no health care professional of record, to a health care professional of the patient's choice, if:

    • The patient does not demonstrate measurable or functional improvement after ten (10) visits or fifteen (15) business days, whichever occurs first, and continued improvement thereafter;
    • The patient returns for services for the same or similar condition after thirty (30) calendar days of being discharged by the physical therapist; or
    • The patient's condition, at the time of evaluation or services, is determined to be beyond the scope of practice of the physical therapist.

A physical therapist shall promptly consult and collaborate with the appropriate health care professional anytime a patient's condition indicates that it may be related to temporomandibular disorder so that a diagnosis can be made by that health care professional for an appropriate treatment plan. 


225 ILCS 90/1.2

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