Physical Therapy Legislative Update

Needle Electromyography Scope of Practice: On December 14, 2005, the Governor signed into law PA 264, which clarifies who is authorized to perform needle electromyography and interpret nerve conduction studies under the Public Health Code. This new law went into effect on March 30, 2006.

Section 17018(1) of PA 264 allows only licensed physicians to perform needle electromyography and interpret nerve conduction tests. However, physicians will still have the ability to delegate the performance of needle electromyography to physical therapists provided specific conditions are met. Physicians may no longer delegate the interpretation of nerve conduction studies to any other health professional except another licensed physician or physician's assistant.

In order for this task to be delegated, the physical therapist: 1) must hold an active Michigan physical therapy license; 2) perform the needle electromyography under a physician's direct supervision; 3) must have performed electrodiagnostic studies in Michigan on a consistent basis for 5 years immediately preceding the March 30, 2006 effective date of this legislation; and 4) must hold an electrophysiologic clinical specialist certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

If a physical therapist does not hold electrophysiologic clinical certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, a physician may still delegate this task provided the physical therapist: 1) holds an active Michigan physical therapy license; 2) performs the needle electromyography under the physician's direct supervision; 3) has performed electrodiagnostic studies in Michigan on a consistent basis since prior to May 1, 2001; and 4) obtains the electrophysiologic clinical specialist certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties by December 31, 2007.

Consistent basis is defined as performing at a minimum an annual average of 10 electrodiagnostic studies each month.

Prescriptions for Physical Therapy: On December 19, 2005, the Governor signed into law PA 281 with immediate effect. This new legislation authorizes a physician's assistant to write prescriptions for physical therapy services for the patients they treat. Prior to this new law being enacted, a physician's assistant could recommend physical therapy services but only a physician could write the actual prescription.