As most of you know, Florida has had a license law since 1997.
There are over 400 licensees, consisting of Prosthetists, Orthotists,
Orthotic Fitters, Orthotic Fitter Assistants, and Pedorthists. The
Fitter and Fitter Assistant are generically lumped in with the
Orthotist under the general category of “orthotist”.
When the law was enacted many “practitioners” in the state took the
view they didn’t need to pursue licensure as for some reason or other
the law would go away or would not apply to them Some probably knew
they were not qualified or would not be licensed for other reasons.
This background is to set the stage for the following article many
of you may see in your local newspaper. An Associated Press article
under the headline “State cracks down on health practices without
license” was published in the September 3rd Ft. Myers News Press. It
details various horror stories of patients being injured and put at risk
by unlicensed providers. They then list the various professions and the
number of individuals charged with unlicensed practice. I was amazed
first of all to see the category of “orthotists” listed and truly
astonished to see there were 30 complaints on record. This is over TEN
percent of the licensed practitioners. To put this in perspective,
there are over 7,000 dentists in Florida but only 129 complaints for
unlicensed activity, that’s less then ONE percent.
Our profession is so small in the scheme of health care that it is
usually not even listed, but because of a lack of regulation and
accountability has gained national recognition for the amount of fraud
being perpetrated against Medicare and Medicaid. This fraud is not
caused by the dedicated professionals who have self-imposed rigid
Certification and when licensure went into effect promptly complied with
the regulations. Rather, what are being reported in the news and the
fraud cases are individuals who see P&O’s lack of regulation as an easy
target for plunder.