'Physiotherapy is not paramedical care'

Almost 200 physiotherapists attended a conference and objected to a proposed amendment in the Clinical Establishments Act, questioning the restrictions it would place on them

In a first-of-its-kind meet, close to 200 physiotherapists from across the state got together for a conference titled ‘Physiotherapy in Maharashtra: A legal professional perspective’ yesterday to discuss prevalent issues in their field. The most pertinent issue, however, was one that could threaten their very status as doctors — the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010.

About 200 physiotherapists attended the meet, where most discussions revolved around the new amendment to the
Clinical Establishments Act

According to those attending the meet, a new amendment to the Act had been proposed recently that could considerably restrict physiotherapists’ ability to help patients. Dr Sandeep Kale, an elected member of the Maharashtra State Occupational Therapy & Physiotherapy Council said, “Under the Act, physiotherapy will be placed under the paramedical category, which we do not agree to.”

What this really means is that when patients are referred to them, the physiotherapists will have to follow exactly the exercises prescribed by the referring doctor. Currently, they are free to recommend exercises to patients at their discretion, with suggestions from the referring doctors.

‘Physios know best’
“In the meet, we discussed the problems that can arise if this Act is implemented. We will be forced to do exactly what the orthopaedists and the other doctors suggest. But I feel that any doctor will have less knowledge than a physiotherapist about the exercises and their effects,” said Dr Shraddha Deshmukh, a Pune-based physiotherapist.

Dr Kale echoed Dr Deshmukh’s thoughts and said, “It won’t just be Orthopaedic doctors, but any doctor who refers patients to us will be able to tell us what to do, even if they do not understand physiological treatment,” adding further that they had also discussed other issues such as malpractice suits, as well as the need to ensure that only those with a proper degree in physiotherapy are allowed to practise.

The conference was organised by Powerphysio, a community of physiotherapists, Fitness trainers, dance and yoga Instructors, and ergonomic consultants.

Dr Neeraj Adkar, an Orthopaedic Surgeon at Sai Shree Hospital, said the Clinical Establishments Act was not just a problem for physiotherapists but for other doctors as well. It will introduce several new regulations for fees, the size of clinics and other aspects of the profession.

The clinical establishments act

The Act makes it mandatory for all clinical establishments to provide medical care to stabilise any individual who is brought in a medical emergency. It will also enable a database to be created for all clinical establishments in the country, and will help to lay down guidelines for standard treatment of common ailments.

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