Occupational therapists can perform occupational therapy evaluations without a referral or prescription. However, to implement an OT treatment plan, under certain circumstances described below, you must have a referral or prescription from a licensed health care provider.
Effective February 3, 2012, Education Law 7901 was amended to provide that an occupational therapy treatment program "designed to restore function" shall be rendered on the prescription or referral of a physician, nurse practitioner or other health care provider acting within his or her scope.
Prior to this amendment, an occupational therapy treatment program could only be provided following receipt of a prescription or referral, and that prescription or referral could only be provided by a physician or nurse practitioner.
The board has interpreted this change to mean that an OT treatment program that is not restoring a function can be provided without a script, and believes that this would apply typically to school age children receiving therapy to develop functions they never had (e.g. handwriting).
Medicaid, an insurance program, or school district may still have a policy that would require a prescription or referral in all instances.
When required, prescriptions and referrals establish an important link between the patient's/client's occupational therapist and his/her primary healthcare provider.
The referral/prescription becomes part of the record which the occupational therapist must maintain for each patient/client you serve.