Podiatrists are doctors that treat conditions of the feet, ankle, lower legs, and lower back. These doctors treat conditions related to diabetes, sports injuries, birth defects, infections, and other ailments of the feet, ankles, and lower legs.
Currently, there are about 9,000 podiatrists in the United States.
Basic requirements for podiatrists are similar to those of many other doctors. They must first graduate from an accredited medical school with either a doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.).
After completing medical school, podiatrists must complete a 3-year podiatric and surgical residency program that will teach doctors about podiatry and surgical techniques. Currently, there are nine colleges of podiatric medicine in the US to train podiatrists.
Podiatrists may also complete a 1 to 3-year fellowship program in a subspecialty of podiatry including:
- Podiatric orthopedics
- Podiatric primary care
- Podiatric sports medicine
- Diabetic foot care
All doctors need a medical license to practice medicine in any state in the US. These licenses are awarded by individual states and requirements will vary from state to state. Medical licenses allow doctors to practice any type of medicine but do not demonstrate qualification in one specialty of medicine.
Podiatrists are board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. Board certification requires education and work experience along with the successful completion of a lengthy written test. Doctors will maintain this certification by maintaining professional qualifications and eventually by retaking the exam.
Where Podiatrists Work
Podiatrists can work in a variety of settings depending on specialty qualifications. These doctors may work in hospitals or private practices, or settings like therapy clinics, sports clubs, nursing homes, or occupational health centers.
Podiatrists can also work as instructors or researchers at universities and clinics.
How They Help People
Podiatrists provide diagnoses, treatment, and preventative care for a wide range of conditions that affect the feet, ankles, lower legs, and lower back.
Podiatrists will diagnose patients by talking to them about symptoms the patient is experiencing, about the patient's personal and family history with podiatric conditions, and by ordering diagnostic tests like imaging scans.
Common conditions that podiatrists treat include:
- Flat feet
- Ingrown toenails
- Skin disorders
- Neuroma or pinched nerves
- Heel pain
- Athlete's foot
Podiatric conditions can be the result of birth defects like clubfoot or can be caused by neglect, damage, and other lifestyle factors such as playing sports. Sometimes podiatric conditions are the result of other medical conditions like diabetes. Many serious medical conditions first manifest as problems in the lower extremities, so podiatrists sometimes act as the first line of defense against conditions like arthritis, heart disease, and kidney disease.
After assessing the patient, podiatrists may refer patients to other medical specialists or may begin a treatment plan. Treatments for podiatric conditions can include physical therapy, specialty orthotics fit for the patient, medication, or surgery. Podiatrists may custom design casts, inserts, and other corrective devices to help treat a podiatric condition. Podiatrists will work with patients to help them understand podiatric medical conditions and how to manage them.
Podiatrists may perform surgical treatments to mend broken bones, fix bone structures, and otherwise heal podiatric conditions.
Patients of podiatrists may be referred to other specialty doctors when podiatric conditions are a part of a larger problem, like diabetes.
The average salary of a podiatrist is $134,000.
Medical Negligence and Podiatrists
Medical malpractice in podiatry occurs when doctors or other medical professionals fail to provide the required standard of care to patients. According to studies of closed podiatry malpractice claims, the most common claims and allegations by patients are (multiple can be claimed in one case):
- Improper treatment 71%
- Improper surgical technique 56%
- Lack of informed consent 24%
- Post-operative infection pain 20%
- Misdiagnosis 13%
- Unnecessary surgery 12%
- Poor results 7%
- Medication error 2%
- Problem with fees 1%
Podiatric treatments most commonly associated with malpractice cases are surgery, bunion treatment, osteotomy, arthroplasty, and neuromas.
While podiatrists are trained in podiatric surgery, they may not all be qualified to take on complicated surgical treatments involving bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. When podiatrists are not fully prepared for a surgery they should refer patients to other specialists, like orthopedic surgeons.
Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Victims of podiatry medical malpractice are entitled to monetary compensation for losses including medical expenses, hospitalization costs, loss of wages, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury while under the care of a podiatrist, call Gilman & Bedigian today. Our attorneys have the experience you need to pursue your malpractice case and recover compensation. We have a track record of success in recovering compensation for malpractice victims and we do not charge any attorney fees until our clients recover the compensation they deserve.
Call (800) 529-6162 today to schedule your free consultation and begin your case.