Practice Alerts

Laws, rules and regulations, not Alerts, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to this Alert may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations, some citations of which are listed at the end of this Alert.

Alert 13: Wound Care and Debridement by Physical Therapists

Section 6731 of the Education Law does not provide specific language regarding debridement or wound care. Debridement of a wound using a scalpel was determined from a review of physical therapy education programs to be within the physical therapy scope when done in conjunction with the provision of physical therapy treatment.

Wound care and sterile techniques are an integral component of physical therapy practice in New York State. Not only do physical therapy education programs include wound care in the curriculum, but concepts of sterile technique are integrated in the professional education and clinical experiences. Physical therapists (PTs) have traditionally practiced aseptic techniques, such as the application of topical medications like Betadine, Silvadene, and others, to promote healing and prevent infection. The use of saline solution for debridement, using pulsed lavage, is a logical component of wound care by licensed PTs. Wound care must be provided in conjunction with the provision of physical therapy treatment.

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Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
Education Law, Section 6731 – definition of the practice of physical therapy
Last Updated: August 11, 2016