Medical Group Practice Can Once Again Employ PTs and PTAs

by Womble Bond Dickinson
Contact

In December 2016, the South Carolina Supreme Court denied a petition for re-hearing, "resolving a long standing dispute and allowing medical practices to employ directly physical therapists (“PTs”) and physical therapist assistants (“PTAs”).

In Joseph v. S.C. Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, 417 S.C. 436, 790 S.E.2d 763 (2016), a physical therapist and two physicians filed suit seeking a judicial declaration overturning  a previous decision by the Supreme Court in Sloan v. S.C. Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, which prohibited employment of physical therapists by medical practices.  The plaintiffs also sought to overturn a 2011 position statement by the South Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners (“PT Board”) regarding the referral of physical therapy patients within a physical therapy practice. 

In a split decision, the Supreme Court specifically overruled its decision in Sloan and declared unconstitutional the 2011 Position Statement from the PT Board.  The practical impact is that medical practices can now employ PTs and PTAs on the same terms as they employ occupational therapists, speech pathologists and nurse practitioners.  The Supreme Court found that the Sloan decision deprived physicians of the right to practice medicine in the best interests of their patients.

Far from unanimous, the decision of the court demonstrates a power play within the court and between the court and other branches of government.  Only two justices agreed that the 2011 Position Statement was unconstitutional, while a third agreed that the statement was improper, but not on constitutional grounds.  Two justices dissented on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not have proper standing to legally raise either issue.  The majority and concurring opinions found significant fault with the administrative agencies which were described as a fourth branch of government challenging the constitutional separation of powers.  The dissent expressed concern that the majority’s decision ignored the fact that the legislature’s intent that the Sloan decision remain in force, having twice had tried unsuccessfully to overturn through legislation the Sloan decision.

This is the latest decision in a twelve year dispute between legislative, executive and judicial authorities over the employment of PTs in South Carolina.  It may or may not be the last.  Depending on how motivated the PT Board is, it may attempt to renew its efforts to re-invigorate the Sloan decision by administrative action, but it would have to go through the formal rule-making procedure set out in the Administrative Procedures Act, rather than issuing an informal position statement.  If the legislature wants to step in, it will have to proceed through the normal legislative process to amend the controlling statute.  Either of these will take time and, presumably, will generate some publicity.  Interested parties should remain vigilant to observe what these government entities do in order to have an opportunity for input.

As of now, however, the Joseph decision is controlling law and physicians can employ PTs and PTAs.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Womble Bond Dickinson | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Womble Bond Dickinson
Contact
more
less

Womble Bond Dickinson on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.