I don’t understand how the O&P Law in Florida cab be weakened any more than
it is. Has anyone read the exemption page of the statutes? As long as
you call yourself a different title (should be a real title with a national
organization) other than an orthotist, orthotic fitter or fitter asst, you
can do any orthosis you please.
The Statute is written to prevent the practice of orthotics by unqualified
orthotists, not qualified (or unqualified for that matter) RN’s, PT’s,
PTA’s, MD’s, DMD.s, LPN’s, ATC’s, Pharmacists, OT’s, OPA’s, X-ray Tech’s,
LMT’s, Chiropractors, CMA’s, CNA’s, PCT’s, my mother-in-law, and anybody
else that does not hold himself out to be an orthotist can apply orthosis in
any form and not be subjected to the Law.
If a patient makes a complaint to the Florida O&P Board against a medical
assistant who applied a cast walker for a fracture in a doctors office, can
the Board act on that complaint. No. It does not fall under the Board’s
domain. The medical assistant (with no orthotic training at all) is
exempted because she works for an MD who is exempted and she does not call
herself an orthotist so she need not be licensed by the Board. The Board
can only discipline “licensed” orthotists.
That’s why Orthopedic Technologists can apply synthetic or plaster fracture
orthosis (casts) or any kind of fracture brace (yes, they have L codes for
it) and bill for it on their own. Even though the statute restricts
fracture bracing to “Orthotists”, the exemption page supercedes the rest of
the statute. Orthopedic Technologists fall under “the any other qualified
individual” phrase in the statute.
There are about 1000 Orthopedic Technologists in Florida. Some Orthotists
have figured out they are better off hiring an Orthotech than an Orthotic
fitter or even another high salaried Orthotist. The Orthotech does not have
to be “supervised” according to the O&P rules and are not limited as
orthotic fitters are.
This is the same situation as Physical Therapists have with Physical
Therapist Assistants and Licensed Massage Therapists. The PT practice owner
would hire a PTA or LMT who did the same job as a PT (except for PT
evaluations) for about half the pay as a PT. Hospitals and private practice
PT’s fired PT’s and hired cheaper PTA’s. How long before Hangar figures
out OT’s and trained ATC’s can replace Orthotists for about 90% of the
patients who walk through their door.
Yes, there still will be a CO but his staff will be OT’s and ATC’s in
Florida. Remember, Florida has several BS college programs for ATC’s and
even training for Orthotechs, but no Orthotic Program yet. ( how many grads
will even stay in the state?) Companies like Depuy (DJ Ortho) are hiring
ATC’s and Orthotechs and placing them in their large Stock & Bill programs
at orthopedic offices. I know a large O&P shop in Tampa that hired an
orthotech 5 years ago to do fittings. It was the “smart move”.
There are about 300-400 people in the Florida who are licensed under the O&P
Law. There are about 200,000 who are specifically exempted by the same
I once asked a Florida O&P Board member why so many exemptions?
He replied, “Because it was the only way to get it passed. The other
medical professions have their lobbyists too”.
Charles Barocas, C.O