AMCNO Sends Letter to Ohio House Addressing Concerns about HB 131 – Physical Therapy; No Vote Taken

The Ohio House Health Committee held a hearing on November 29 concerning Substitute House Bill 131—physical therapists scope. Following testimony, Chairman Steve Huffman, MD, announced there would be no vote on the bill. 

Throughout the last three General Assemblies, legislation has been introduced that would alter the scope of practice for physical therapists (PTs)—and each time, the AMCNO and other medical organizations across the state have opposed these bills. We have consistently opposed the idea of allowing PTs to make a diagnosis or order tests or X-rays, and the AMCNO recently sent written testimony to the Ohio House Health Committee expressing our concerns about the current legislation. 

HB 131 is the latest version of a bill meant to change the scope of practice for physical therapists. The AMCNO is concerned about this bill because it would grant PTs the ability to diagnose a medical condition—in effect, giving them the ability to independently practice medicine. Medical decision-making and diagnoses are the result of the interpretation of many variables, including history, examination, and diagnostics. Although we agree that PTs are an important part of the healthcare team, we do not believe they are adequately trained to diagnose a medical condition. We believe that the diagnosis of medical conditions should be done by trained physicians or mid-level providers who are working collaboratively with a physician.  

The bill would also permit a PT to order plain X-rays, but only if the PT meets certain educational requirements as outlined in the bill. The AMCNO believes that there are some very real patient safety concerns when a PT orders imaging—mainly because the imaging education and training of PTs, even in PT doctorate programs, will not be sufficient enough for them to provide these services on their own.      

There is an alternative proposal that could potentially allow a PT to order X-rays, namely to attain adequate training in imaging and enter into a formal collaboration arrangement with a physician, similar to how APRNs and PAs do under their existing scopes of practice. At this time, there is only one other state that authorizes a PT to order images, so even if the collaborative approach were to move forward, Ohio would be an outlier state relative to this authorization. 

In addition to sending our written testimony, the AMCNO has been meeting with legislators about this issue. At the present time, the bill is still under discussion and another substitute bill is expected to be drafted in the future. We will keep our members apprised on the status of the legislation.

The Pollen Line is now closed. See you in the spring!

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