• Reduce font size | Increase font size Text Size

What Activities Constitute Direct Patient Care?

  • Because each situation is different, there is no specific list of activities that may always be included or excluded as direct patient care. However, a guiding principle to consider for defining direct patient care is: the activities that a physical therapist participates in, that have a direct influence on the care of a specific patient or client. This work can be fee based or pro bono work. Please note that eligible direct patient care hours only include the time spent practicing within your specific specialty area, and as a licensed physical therapist in the United States or any of its possessions or territories.

    Some examples of approved direct patient care activities:

    1. Team meetings where the needs of one or more specific patients are discussed and evaluated, regardless of whether or not the patient and family are present.

    2. Your consultation services if your evaluation and input directly impact a specific patient.

    3. Time utilized to prepare home exercise programs for specific patients.

    4. Time spent reviewing medical records prior to seeing a specific patient or patients.

    5. For senior therapists or heads of departments, time spent reviewing the physical therapy documentation in the records of all of the patients in his/her unit. However, please remember that these hours can only be utilized once and cannot also be used for other categories such as administration.

    6. Time spent teaching a family how to help or care for a specific patient through a home exercise program.

    7. Screening of individual participants in a community senior center for risk of falls.

    8. Screening of new clients of a fitness center in order to prevent injury once they start exercising.

    9. Involvement in a research project where patients are directly influenced or affected by your interaction. This interaction can be on a one-on-one basis or in a group setting, as long as the care of the patient or patients are directly influenced or affected by your interaction. However, please remember that these hours can only be utilized once and cannot also be used to calculate research activities points.

    10. If you teach a course that involves working with a group of students to evaluate and treat a specific patient or patients, the time spent in this activity that has a direct influence on a specific person counts towards your direct patient care hours. However, please remember that these hours could also count as clinical supervision but cannot be allocated to both categories in the Professional Development Portfolio.

    11. Time spent providing feedback on a written case from one of your students that is on a clinical affiliation, for a patient the student is currently treating. This feedback should be discussed with their clinical instructor and changes implemented as needed.

    12. Time spent providing acute care and injury management for athletes in venues where athletes practice and compete.

  • American Physical Therapy Association | 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1488 703/684-APTA (2782) | 800/999-2782 | 703/683-6748 (TDD) | 703/684-7343 (fax)