Q: Do occupational therapists need a referral to assess or treat clients?

A: Where an OT works will determine if a referral to assess or treat a client is needed.  The legislation that governs the College and the profession of occupational therapy (Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 and the Occupational Therapy Act, 1991) does not require occupational therapists to have a physician’s referral for OT services (assessment, treatment, consultation). Occupational therapists practicing within the scope of practice of the profession can receive referrals from anyone including self-referrals from clients.


However, if an OT works in a hospital, the Public Hospitals Act, 1990 legislation governs procedures related to treatment within a hospital setting.  Decisions regarding OT referrals for assessment or treatment are at the discretion of the hospital based on how they have interpreted the Public Hospitals Act – Regulation 965 – Hospital Management. OTs should consult with those individuals within their organization who can speak to the requirements pertaining to OT referrals for assessment or treatment.  



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