Podiatric surgery needs reform: AMA submission

Australian Medical Association

Podiatrists should no longer be able to use the title “surgeon”, the AMA says in a new submission.

The AMA has called for reform to protect patients from being misled by podiatrists calling themselves “surgeon” despite not having a medical degree or surgical training.

In a submission to the independent review of the regulation of podiatric surgeons, the AMA raised concerns about a significant notification rate of podiatric surgeons. Between 1 July 2010 and 30 June 2023, podiatric surgeons had a notification rate that was eight times higher than the rate for other podiatrists.

Common reasons for notifications identified in the independent review’s consultation paper include inadequate or inappropriate procedures and making incorrect diagnoses.

The AMA’s submission notes podiatric surgery is the only form of human medical treatment where a person other than a doctor can take a scalpel and cut into a patient and operate on bones, tendons and joints, among other things.

“This is an arrangement that the AMA considers needs to be rectified,” the submission says.

“There are numerous examples of podiatric surgeons calling themselves doctors (despite not having a PhD or medical degree) and they obviously use the term surgeon.

“The public could also be excused from assuming that the regulators would not allow this person to not be a doctor or a surgeon, if they are offering a medical service that involved cutting open the patient’s skin.”

The AMA’s submission says a lack of regulation has perpetuated this problem and allowed it to flourish to the detriment of patients.

“Accordingly, the AMA reaffirms its strong opposition to the use of the title “surgeon” by any practitioner who is not a medical practitioner and has not successfully completed a program of surgical training of at least the equivalent standard to that required to become a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS),” the submission says.

/AMA/AusMed News. View in full here.