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APTA Board of Directors Standard BOD S03-06-16-38

The Standards of Practice for Physical Therapy are promulgated by APTA’s House of Delegates; criteria for the standards are promulgated by APTA’s Board of Directors. Criteria are italicized beneath the standards to which they apply.


The physical therapy profession’s commitment to society is to promote optimal health and function in individuals by pursuing excellence in practice. The American Physical Therapy Association attests to this commitment by adopting and promoting the following Standards of Practice for Physical Therapy. These Standards are the profession’s statement of conditions and performances that are essential for provision of high-quality professional service to society, and provide a foundation for assessment of physical therapist practice.


  1. Ethical Considerations

    The physical therapist practices according to the Code of Ethics of the American Physical Therapy Association.

    The physical therapist assistant complies with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant of the American Physical Therapy Association.

  2. Legal Considerations

    The physical therapist complies with all the legal requirements of jurisdictions regulating the practice of physical therapy.

    The physical therapist assistant complies with all the legal requirements of jurisdictions regulating the work of the assistant.


  1. Statement of Mission, Purposes, and Goals

    The physical therapy service has a statement of mission, purposes, and goals that reflects the needs and interests of the patients/clients served, the physical therapy personnel affiliated with the service, and the community.

    The statement of mission, purposes, and goals:

    • Defines the scope and limitations of the physical therapy service.

    • Identifies the goals and objectives of the service.

    • Is reviewed annually.

  2. Organizational Plan

    The physical therapy service has a written organizational plan.

    The organizational plan:

    • Describes relationships among components within the physical therapy service and, where the service is part of a larger organization, between the service and the other components of that organization.

    • Ensures that the service is directed by a physical therapist.

    • Defines supervisory structures within the service.

    • Reflects current personnel functions.

  3. Policies and Procedures

    The physical therapy service has written policies and procedures that reflect the operation, mission, purposes, and goals of the service, and are consistent with the Association’s positions, standards, guidelines, policies, procedures, and Code of Ethics.

    The written policies and procedures:

    • Are reviewed regularly and revised as necessary.

    • Meet the requirements of federal and state law and external agencies.

    • Apply to, but are not limited to:

      • Care of patients/clients, including guidelines

      • Clinical education

      • Clinical research

      • Collaboration

      • Collection of patient data

      • Competency assessment

      • Criteria for access to care

      • Criteria for initiation and continuation of care

      • Criteria for referral to other appropriate health care providers

      • Criteria for termination of care

      • Documentation

      • Environmental safety

      • Equipment maintenance

      • Fiscal management

      • Improvement of quality of care and performance of services

      • Infection control

      • Job/position descriptions

      • Medical emergencies

      • Personnel-related policies

      • Rights of patients/clients...

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