Practice Alerts

Disclaimer: Practice guidelines provide licensees with general guidance to promote good practice. Law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and what may constitute professional misconduct.

Alert 12: Medications/Iontophoresis/Phonophoresis

Physical therapists (PT) may not independently possess prescription medications. Nor may they administer drugs via most routes of administration. However, the use of medicinal ions through iontophoresis/phonophoresis is a chemical means of providing treatment of disability, injury, or disease. Thus, it is permitted by the below-cited section of the Physical Therapy Practice Act. When iontophoresis is used with chemicals (drugs) that are designated as prescription drugs, the drugs must be dispensed by a pharmacist for a specific patient/client. Prescription drugs may not be kept as stock by an individual PT or by a physical therapy department. Please note that the New York State Department of Health may have additional requirements regarding the distribution of drugs within hospitals and other facilities governed by Article 28 of the Public Health Law.

Education Law Section 6731 - Definition of physical therapy.

a. The evaluation, treatment or prevention of disability, injury, disease, or other condition of health using physical, chemical, and mechanical means including, but not limited to heat, cold, light, air, water, sound, electricity, massage, mobilization, and therapeutic exercise with or without assistive devices, and the performance and interpretation of tests and measurements to assess pathophysiological, pathomechanical, and developmental deficits of human systems to determine treatment, and assist in diagnosis and prognosis (emphasis added).

Section 6808(1) of the Education Law (Pharmacy law)

No person, firm, corporation or association shall possess drugs, prescriptions or poisons for the purpose of compounding, dispensing, retailing, wholesaling, or manufacturing, or shall offer drugs, prescriptions or poisons for sale at retail or wholesale unless registered by the department as a pharmacy, wholesaler, manufacturer or outsourcing facility.
Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
Education Law, Section 6731(a) – definition of practice of physical therapy
Education Law, Section 6808(1) – possession of drugs
Last Updated: April 15, 2021