The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Fair Practice Initiative has scored a key victory in the fight to protect the athletic training profession. By an opinion entered on September 9, 2008, the Federal District Court in Dallas, Texas, denied the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) motion to dismiss the lawsuit and rejected APTA’s request to transfer the case from Dallas to Virginia. The suit is based on alleged violations of federal antitrust laws.
 
The Court’s decision clears the way for NATA to proceed with its case. NATA expects that discovery will soon commence. At the same time, NATA remains willing to meet with APTA to discuss any possible areas of resolution to the case and the issues raised in it. NATA and its board of directors simply want to protect the rights of athletic trainers to practice to the fullest extent of their scope of practice.
 
Also in its September 9 ruling, the Court decided the Orthopaedic Section of APTA is not subject to jurisdiction in Texas. NATA is now evaluating its next steps for that portion of the case.
 
By way of brief background, the anticompetitive action by APTA is related to its efforts to restrict NATA members’ access to education in — and the practice of — manual therapy techniques, which are consistent with athletic training competencies, scope of practice and licensure. This type of action is an attempt by APTA to prevent athletic trainers from competing fairly with physical therapists when it comes to providing physical medicine and rehabilitation services.
 
As athletic trainers who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses, NATA members expect to practice in settings and situations consistent with their training, education and state licenses. Athletic trainers work under the direction of physicians. When a physician believes an athletic trainer is the best choice to care for a patient, NATA believes the athletic trainer should be allowed to do so.
 
NATA felt it had no choice but to take this step to protect its members’ right to fairly compete and practice in the marketplace. NATA tried to work through these issues with APTA; however, the APTA response to their concerns was unsatisfactory and dismissive of the issues NATA raised.
 
Only after a great deal of study and careful consideration did NATA decide to bring legal action.

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