South Carolina Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Integration of Physician and PT Services

24 Sep 2016

The South Carolina Supreme Court has overturned a previous ruling which prohibited physicians from employing physical therapists in the Palmetto State.  Issued on September 14th, the Court’s decision in Joseph et al v South Carolina Department of Licensing, Labor, and Regulation, South Carolina Board of Physical Therapy concludes the decade-long fight over physician employment of PTs by overruling the Court’s 2006 opinion in Sloan v. South Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.

Last week’s ruling stated that the Court’s previous interpretation constituted an equal protection violation and furthermore violated the “substantive due process rights of physical therapists by imposing an arbitrary restriction upon physical therapists while preserving those employment relationships for all other health care providers and allied health professionals”.  The opinion noted that, under Sloan, physicians could employ other healthcare professionals such as OTs, speech therapists, and nurse practitioners but not PTs.  The ruling went on to state that the interpretation in Sloan created an “absurd situation by strictly prohibiting physician-PT employment relationship without considering the resulting ethical implications or patient wellbeing”.

The full text of the Court’s decision can be found here.