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 12A: Medication Reviews

  1. Review and documentation of patient’s current medications in the medical record.

    Knowledge of a patient’s current medications and medication histories is critical to the delivery of safe health care services. Physical therapists (PTs) should review and document a patient’s medication regime prior to initiation of treatment. Clinical decision-making should include a comprehensive review of a patient’s medication list to avoid commonly occurring adverse drug events and ensure that no medication barriers to effective physical therapy treatment exist. A review of a patient’s medications is also necessary to ascertain whether or not temporary or long-term modifications should be made to the therapy being provided. PTs cannot determine which drugs are appropriate, nor can they suggest specific dosages or changes in drug therapy to patients. For drug regimen reviews for patients receiving therapy only through a certified home health agency or long term home health care program, please see the January 26, 2010 letter from the Department of Health regarding medication reviews by PTs.

  2. Monitoring the patient’s response to certain medications.

    PTs should have a working knowledge of the side effects of medications and should make clinical judgments based on this knowledge. Physical therapists commonly obtain a list of medications from the patient and should compare this list with any medication list in the patient’s medical record. Many agencies have a specific medication form to complete, which is kept in a separate section of the medical record. PTs should be able to complete this form if they are opening a case or it is a physical therapy only case. Physical therapists should also document any medications and the patient’s response to them in their notes, especially if the medications are having an adverse impact on the patient’s physical therapy treatment activities or progress.

  3. Reporting patient’s response to medication to the prescribing provider.

    If a PT witnesses or gets a report of a potential side effect or notices a problem with a patient and believes it is associated with medication the patient is taking, it is incumbent on the PT to inform a nurse or physician.

  4. May a PT take medication orders over the phone?

    No, it is not within the scope of physical therapy practice to take medication orders.
***The various tasks and procedures that are associated with a patient’s medication and that are discussed in this Alert may only be performed and undertaken if done in conjunction with physical therapy treatment.
Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
Education Law, Section 6731 – definition of practice of physical therapy
Public Health Law, Article 36 – home care
Last Updated: April 15, 2021