Ask the Experts: Early Ergonomics Intervention

Ergonomics January 16, 2020

Ergonomics intervention is the topic at hand in today’s Ask the Experts Q&A. We recently received a question regarding some of the legal implications regarding physical therapists(PT) providing early ergonomics intervention. Read the question below followed by the answer from esteemed faculty member, Matt Jeffs, PT, DPT, CEAS II.

I have a client in NC and VA that wants early intervention – ergonomics, body mechanics and stretching. If I place a PT, do you think I they have to have a PT license in that state, even though they’re technically not doing PT? I would think that were governed by our PT license and that we do need a license in each state.

Ergonomics Intervention

Matt was ready and eager to address this question head on:

“The key distinction to remember here is the difference between the broad spheres of Preventive Delivery vs. Reactive Delivery.

While there is some overlap, they each have elements independent of one another. The former (Prevention) involves no diagnoses, no ICD-11 codes, no CPT codes, no insurance reimbursement and no treatment of individuals with distinct, OSHA-recordable injuries. It addresses populations – and reduces their need for downstream, reactive medicine.

The latter (Reaction) is delivery of after-the-fact physical therapy services as seen in the clinical realm of downstream medicine. That which is delivered in most clinical settings. It involves diagnoses, ICD-11 codes, CPT codes, 3rd party insurance reimbursement, and treatment of individuals with conditions – AND – requires a physical therapy license within that particular state.

Knowing where this line is drawn is key.

Understanding the STRICT standards OSHA uses to define First Aid is paramount. Properly documenting the Prevention encounter is pivotal. Staying on the Prevention side of this equation is vital. If you understand and appreciate the difference, then you are delivering the very same services Athletic Trainers and other professionals deliver in the realm of Prevention.

It is NOT downstream physical therapy. It’s something newer, very exciting and – in the current climate of healthcare delivery – vastly more satisfying and rewarding for the participants. It’s using our training for its highest and best use: keeping people from needing ‘treatment’ in the first place.”

Have questions or advice on the legal implications of performing ergonomics assessments? Let us know in the comments!


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