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Let's Get Physical: August 2018 Issue

Let's get physical an allied health staffing blog


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5 Reasons We Need More PTs in Emergency Departments


More emergency departments (ED) need to take advantage of the expertise allied health professionals have to offer. A new study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine highlighted various benefits of employing more physical therapists. Here are five ways therapists impact ED patient care.


1. They specialize in musculoskeletal health. Many patients who end up the ED may suffer from acute musculoskeletal issues. While therapists are experts in this area of medicine, only about half of doctors are trained in it. Having more ED PTs on staff means better diagnoses and treatment plans for these patients.  


2. They improve patient flow. High patient census rates are one of the leading causes of burnout, especially among emergency physicians. This is another problem PTs can alleviate. As the study showed, ED therapists improve patient flow by decreasing wait times and reducing admission rates for patients with orthopedic symptoms. Researchers also noted that the presence of PTs boosted both patient and provider satisfaction.


3. They decrease opioid usage. Emergency department patients often suffer from acute pain, which may be treated with opioid prescriptions. However, the CDC recommends that their use should not exceed three consecutive days for most patients. With more PTs on staff though, emergency departments may opt for therapy as the first line of defense against pain instead of drugs. This shift would reduce the use of opioid prescriptions to treat both acute and chronic pain.


4. They reduce subsequent ED visits. Physical therapists are experts on patient mobility and safety. They know the limitations of a recovering body and how to educate patients on those limitations. These measures not only provide optimal treatment but can also reduce subsequent ED visits. For example, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that when elderly patients visiting the ED for a fall received PT services, their chances of returning to the ED for another fall lowered significantly.


5. They reduce healthcare spending. ED visits account for a substantial portion of America’s healthcare spending. With the expensive procedures and diagnostics, it’s easy for patients to rack up a staggering bill. PTs can assist on this front too by helping physicians reach more specific diagnoses and eliminating unnecessary diagnostic imaging and procedures.


What do you think: Should more therapists go into emergency medicine? If you’re a PT who has done this kind of work, I would love to hear about your experiences and insights.





Job Growth Prospects Skyrocket for Allied Health in California


The California Employment Development Department recently published its job growth projections through 2026. For the top twenty fastest-growing jobs in the market, allied health dominated. Occupational Therapy Assistants have a projected growth of 31.6%, while Physical Therapy Assistants will grow 30.8%. For Physical Therapists, it’s 28.8%. For more information, check out the full article here.


APTA-Special Olympics Partnership for Inclusive Healthcare

As the Special Olympics celebrates its 50th year, what better time to commemorate on of its best alliances? The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and Special Olympics have been working together since 1999, but it wasn’t until 2017 that they decided to make their partnership official. If you’re a therapist who wants to get involved with Special Olympics, here are some resources to get you started!