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Abstract

Though physical therapist consultation has been described as a means of enhancing care in the Emergency Department (ED), such services are rare and often poorly understood. This pilot study utilizes qualitative methodology for the purpose of describing how one group of emergency physicians experienced with physical therapist consultation in the ED perceive these services and the challenges associated with their provision. Transcripts of interviews with 11 emergency physicians were analyzed for recurrent themes. Findings indicated that these physicians found ED physical therapist services to be of value for themselves, their patients, and the department as a whole and described specific manners in which such consultations enhanced emergency care. Implementation and maintenance of the program, however, presented various challenges. Furthermore, physicians perceived that possession of certain characteristics better prepared physical therapists for success in this practice environment. These findings may help clarify the role of the ED physical therapist and aid in communicating the potential benefits and complications associated with the delivery of such services.

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