Frequently Asked Questions
Introduction to Practice Questions
Whether you are a newly licensed podiatrist or an experienced practitioner, you may have questions about the practice of your profession. The following information may help you answer some of the most common questions. This information is based upon questions submitted to the State Board for Podiatry by licensed podiatrists.
Please note that while we are able to provide general guidance with respect to the practice of the professions, the appropriateness and legality of any particular activities performed by a licensed professional will depend on the particular circumstances presented. Violations of any of the laws or rules relating to professional practice may result in charges of professional misconduct. Additionally, while the Office of the Professions is able to provide information about the scope of practice of a profession, it does not interpret insurance policies or offer opinions as to whether a particular service should or should not be covered by insurance.
- The scope of practice for podiatry is defined in the law. Does
that mean that I can do everything that falls within the legal
scope of my practice?
Part 29 of the Rules of the Board of Regents requires you to practice within your personal scope of competence. If you are not competent to provide a service that you are legally allowed to provide, then you may not provide that service. As a licensed professional, it is your responsibility to practice within the scope of your abilities and expertise. If you practice outside your personal scope of competence, you can be charged with professional misconduct.
- My education and training in podiatry were completed in another state and I have treated portions of the body above the foot. Am I restricted to treating the foot only?
With two exceptions, section 7001 of New York State Education Law limits the scope of practice of podiatry to the foot. The two exceptions relate to the provision of wound care and to the performance of ankle surgery by podiatrists who have been issued a podiatric standard ankle surgery privilege or a podiatric advanced ankle surgery privilege. For more information about wound care, see question 13. For additional information about podiatric ankle surgery privileges, click on the Podiatric Ankle Surgery Privileges link to the left. Unless you have been issued such a privilege, you are not allowed to treat fractures of the malleoli or perform cutting operations on the malleoli. A licensed podiatrist who treats another part of the human body may be subject to charges of professional misconduct, for practicing beyond the defined scope of podiatry.
- How long must I maintain patient records?
Unless otherwise provided by law, all patient records must be kept for six years. Records for children must be kept at least six years, and until one year after the child is 21 years old.
- May I use an "aide" or "assistant" to provide
There is no title or profession of "podiatric assistant" to serve as an adjunct to the licensed podiatrist. Referring to an unlicensed person by the title "podiatric assistant" may create an assumption that the assistant is qualified to practice podiatry. Education Law was amended in 2001 to allow an unlicensed person to "provide supportive services to a podiatrist incidental to and concurrent with such podiatrist personally performing a service or procedure."
- What tasks can an unlicensed person perform?
An unlicensed person may be asked to assist a patient on or off the table or remove or apply bandages at the direction of the licensed podiatrist. An unlicensed person cannot "provide any service which constitutes the practice of podiatry" as defined in Education Law. For instance, a podiatrist cannot delegate surgical procedures or ultrasound treatment to an unlicensed person. Under Section 6509(7) of Education Law and Section 29.1 of the Rules of the Board of Regents, such actions could expose a licensed podiatrist to charges of professional misconduct. The licensed podiatrist should remain in the office where the services are being performed and evaluate the services performed by the unlicensed person before the dismissal of the patient.
Podiatric Radiography Assistants - the task of taking x-rays of the foot can be delegated to an unlicensed person who has completed a course of study approved by the Education Department and who is under the direct supervision of a licensed podiatrist.
- If I am authorized by law to prescribe medications, are there
A podiatrist graduating from a podiatric medical college on or after May 1, 1972, or those otherwise authorized by the Department, may prescribe narcotics in New York State. However, a podiatrist is limited to prescribing medications for the purpose of treating conditions of the foot, despite the fact that any medications prescribed may also have other systemic effects on the patient. Drugs prescribed by a podiatrist may be administered by any route, including intravenously.
- Can a podiatrist administer conscious sedation during office-based
When conscious sedation is administered to a patient, at least two persons must be present in the operating room: the podiatrist or a licensed physician qualified to administer the anesthetic drug and one additional individual who is competent to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Podiatrists in an office setting may not administer conscious sedation to more than one patient at a time.
- Can a hospital deny privileges to me because I am a podiatrist?
Hospitals have the right to specify qualifications for hospital privileges, although New York Public Health Law does not permit them to discriminate against an entire profession, such as podiatrists. The criteria for hospital privileges are determined by the facilitys medical board and documented in the hospital's by-laws. Any questions about hospital practices should be directed to the New York State Department of Health, Office of Health Systems Management, Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12237, phone: 518-474-7028, fax: 518-486-2564, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Am I required to engage in continuing podiatric education in
order to register my license?
You must complete 1.4 hours of continuing education for each month of the preceding registration period in which you were licensed (50 hours for a three-year registration period). The coursework must be approved by the New York State Board for Podiatry. Applicants for re-registration who are unable to meet the continuing education requirement due to circumstances beyond their control may apply to the Board for a waiver of all or part of this requirement. The Board may, in its discretion, require the completion of additional hours of continuing education in the succeeding registration period. See the Continuing Education Guidelines for Podiatrists for more information.
- Must I wear an identification badge when I am providing podiatric
services in a health care setting?
You must wear a name tag indicating your name and your professional title if you are practicing as an employee or operator of a hospital, clinic, group practice, or multi-professional facility, or at a commercial establishment offering health services to the public.
- Since my degree is in Podiatric Medicine, may I advertise that
I am a "physician?"
While you may refer to the services you offer as podiatric medicine, it is misleading for you to advertise yourself as a physician as that term is limited to persons licensed in the profession of Medicine.
- If I am unsure about whether something falls within my legal
scope of practice, how can I find out?
You can write to the Office of the Professions, State Board for Podiatry at 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234-1000, call 518-474-3817 ext. 180, fax 518-402-5944 or e-mail email@example.com.
- What is included in the scope of practice of podiatry with respect to the provision of wound care?
Prior to February 17, 2014, podiatrists were restricted to wound care on the foot. Effective February 17, 2014, the scope of practice of podiatry was expanded so that podiatrists may treat wounds if they are near and related to a wound on the foot. A podiatrist may not, however, provide wound care beyond the level ending at the tibial tuberosity.
- May a podiatrist perform a diagnostic debridement of the tibia or fibula?
Education Law section 7001(1) authorizes a podiatrist to treat a wound on the lower leg (at or below the level of the tibial tuberosity) that is related to a wound on the foot. In the course of and as part of the treatment of such a wound, it is within the scope of practice of podiatry for a podiatrist to perform a diagnostic debridement of the tibia or fibula through the wound being treated in order to ascertain whether the bone has become infected. However, a podiatrist may not provide any services which he or she "knows or has reason to know that he or she is not competent to perform…" (section 29.1[b] of the Rules of the Board of Regents).