Should we discharge from Physical Therapy

Why is the terminology “discharged from Physical Therapy” used?

I have not heard of anyone being “discharged from dentistry”. I have not heard of anyone being discharged from massage therapy.

The meaning of “discharge” is – to relieve of a charge, load, or burden; or to release from confinement, custody, or care; or to set aside or dismiss.

If the Physical Therapy service occurs in an outpatient setting discharging a client makes less sense.

If a third party (health insurance) is paying for the physical therapy service, it makes sense that the third party wants to discharge the client, to have the account closed. When I worked in an outpatient physical therapy clinic housed in a hospital system it always frustrated me to be required to write discharge summary notes. Mostly because it placed barriers to the patient returning for a tune-up, adjustment, and reassessment of their problem. The patient was required to fill out the burdensome volume of paper, consent forms, and financial documents required to resume care.

In the distant past the prescription for Physical Therapy services came from a physician, including a number of sessions and a number of weeks. This required discharge of the patient after providing the number of sessions and weeks of service. This is no longer the process. Physicians often refer patients to Physical Therapy. Physicians do not prescribe what the Physical Therapy service is, nor the dosage of service.

Now, individuals can go directly to a Physical Therapist unless the third-party health insurance requires a physician referral.

Alternative terminology is:

  • Graduate from Physical Therapy
  • Advanced from supervised Physical Therapy to self-care.
  • Finished Physical Therapy for now.
  • Completed Physical Therapy

Many diagnoses and health conditions are chronic and need long-term follow-up, self-management, periodic monitoring and adjustment of plan of care.

When we graduate from school it means we progress to the next level of learning. We progress from secondary school to college, to graduate school, to postdoc program to lifelong learning.

Aim to have the right provider, delivering the right care, at the right time.

If your health insurance requires a discharge from Physical Therapy and you have a diagnosis or health condition that can benefit from additional physical therapy &/or periodic Physical Therapy service, consider the following proactive actions:

  • Use reflective learning as a college graduate will to continue lifelong learning. Use available Physical Therapy sessions to learn how to learn.
  • Maximize available Physical Therapy visits with active engagement
  • Tuck money away in a health savings account
  • Consider using a less expensive self-pay telehealth follow-up visit with your Physical Therapist.
  • Contact your physical therapist via patient portal or email with questions and concerns.
  • Unless your health insurance requires your PCP to make the referral to Physical Therapy go directly to the Physical Therapist. If you think you need Physical Therapy, wouldn’t it make sense to get it sooner. Periodic checkups can prevent the development of more complex problems.

The information on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You are encouraged to perform additional research regarding any information contained available through this website with other sources and consult with your physician.

Damien Howell Physical Therapy – 804-647-9499 – Fax: 866-879-8591 At-Home, At Office, At Fitness Facility – I come to you, I do home visits

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