About 20 years ago, I chose to begin a career in the medical wellness field due to my lifetime commitment to staying active. Because of this, I have put my body through a lot and have unfortunately undergone my fair share of injuries requiring both surgery and physical therapy. Through these injuries, I have come to realize the importance of a team of people that you can trust.
This team should include a loved one who advocates for your best interests, a primary care physician you trust – willing to refer you to the best specialists regardless of their affiliations, and a physical therapist you trust to give you the best therapy for your recovery. I am lucky to have just that.
My team has given me the best treatment from some of the top specialists and therapists in the Boston area. Not all of us have been as lucky. In order to receive the greatest treatment possible (and recover properly), there are a few things I need to share with you.
First, you need to believe you should receive the best treatment possible. You deserve it. You have to make sure you are prepared to fight for the best treatment for your injury or illness. You have to be your own advocate.
Did you know that in Massachusetts, everyone has direct access to see a physical therapist of their choice? This means you can be seen directly by a physical therapist without a prescription from your physician. Many insurance companies will reimburse for these treatments.
The physical therapy clinic of your choice will be able to tell you if they accept your insurance and if they require a physician referral. If your insurance company requires a physician referral and your physician wants you to get treatment elsewhere, it is ultimately your decision where you want to be treated. Below is an example of potential situations you may encounter.
You have been having pain in your upper back on the right side, nagging you for about a month. It feels like tight muscles, as work has been stressful as of late.
You have been told by a co-worker to see her physical therapist. She had a similar issue, and she resolved it in four sessions. You decide to give it a try and go to the PT clinic to make an appointment. The receptionist at the front desk asks for your insurance card and says you need to get a prescription from your physician. You then make an appointment with your physician.
This is where you have to trust your doctor. This is where the path may have some forks in the road. Here, you may have to decide what the best option is for you.
The first path is the doctor won’t write the referral without an x-ray and/or MRI. A physician’s clinical judgment can justify imaging first. While this could be a good idea to rule anything else causing the pain than a tight muscle, it is illegal for them to demand these tests in order for you to get a prescription for physical therapy.
The second path is your doctor wants to write a prescription for physical therapy at the clinic he normally refers his patients’ to and won’t write one of YOUR CHOICE. This is also against the law.
Lastly, they say they won’t write a prescription for just physical therapy. Illegal. It is your right. A law put into action in 1982, allows you, the patient, direct access to the physical therapists of YOUR CHOICE.
The bottom line is: when seeking treatment for injury or illness, know your rights, have a team you can trust and remember in the end the decision is yours.
For more information on Dedham Health, visit our website.
Guy C., – Fitness and Martial Arts Director at Dedham Health