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June 28, 2016

3 Things Every Massachusetts Podiatrist Should Know About the Proposed Amendments to Podiatry Regulations

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In response to Governor Baker’s Executive Order #562 directing each Massachusetts regulatory agency to review and revise its regulations to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden in the state, the Board of Registration in Podiatry has put forth a set of Proposed Amendments to the Podiatry Regulations. Here are 3 things every Massachusetts podiatrist should know about those amendments.

1. The Proposed Amendments create a process for license reinstatement.

Whereas the existing Podiatry Regulations only provide a process for renewing one’s license, the Proposed Amendments provide an avenue for reinstating a lapsed license. This new process would apply to anyone seeking reinstatement of his/her podiatry license either because: (1) the license lapsed or expired; or, (2) the individual otherwise fails to meet the renewal requirements.

Under the Proposed Amendments, a license that has been lapsed/expired for 5 years or less may be reinstated if the licensee:

  • Demonstrates that he/she meets all statutory/regulatory requirements for reinstatement;
  • Pays all applicable fees, including the current registration fee, all missed renewal fees, and a late fee; and
  • Submits written proof of the completion of at least 15 hours of continuing education for each registration period that lapsed.

The Proposed Amendments impose additional requirements on individuals seeking to reinstate licenses that have been lapsed/expired for more than 5 years. In addition to the requirements listed above, the licensee must also demonstrate his/her current competency to practice podiatry, including obtaining a passing score of the current Massachusetts Jurisprudence Examination. Podiatrists who have been legally practicing in another jurisdiction for at least 2 years during the lapse, though, can avoid this requirement by instead submitting a written statement from the other jurisdiction’s licensing authority reflecting the status of his/her license.

2. The Proposed Amendments significantly relax advertising restrictions.

The existing Podiatry Regulations impose a number of limits on a podiatrist’s ability to advertise. In addition to forbidding “false, deceptive or misleading” advertisements, the existing regulations require podiatrists to:

  • Maintain complete copies of electronic media advertisements (e.g., television and radio) for 3 years, and to provide a copy to the Board upon request (at the podiatrist’s expense).
  • List their name, business address, designation (i.e., Professional Degree/D.P.M., Podiatrist, Practitioner of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, or Podiatric Physician) in all advertisements.
  • Include the name of at least one licensee, the business address, and the designation of the podiatrist in any advertisements for podiatry practice groups.

The Proposed Amendments streamline podiatrist advertisements by eliminating all of these restrictions other than the prohibition on “false, deceptive or misleading” advertisements (which would apply to all podiatrists and practices anyways under other state consumer protection laws).

3. The Proposed Amendments overhaul the Podiatry Board’s disciplinary process.

The existing Podiatry Regulations contain two sections governing Board discipline. The first section, titled “Unprofessional Conduct,” lists the conduct the Board deems “unprofessional.” The second section, titled “Violation of the Board’s Rules and Regulations,” enumerates the situations in which the Board can impose discipline, including when a podiatrist engages in “unprofessional conduct.” The Proposed Amendments maintain this two-section structure, but make two significant changes.

First, the Proposed Amendments expand the scope of conduct for which the Board can impose disciplinary action. The Proposed Amendments maintain the Board’s authority to discipline podiatrists for the conduct falling within the existing regulations’ sections on “Unprofessional Conduct” and “Violation of the Board’s Rules and Regulations,” but adds that the Board may discipline podiatrists for violating Sections 61-65 of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 112 (i.e., the chapter governing the registration of professions/occupations). Although Sections 61-65 largely repeat the conduct already considered to be grounds for disciplinary action, they do expand the Board’s disciplinary authority to the following conduct:

  • Practicing podiatry fraudulently or beyond the authorized scope of a license.
  • Practicing podiatry with negligence on one or more than one occasion.
  • Being convicted of a criminal offense which is reasonably related to the practice of podiatry.
  • Knowingly permitting, aiding, or abetting someone in the unauthorized practice of podiatry.

Second, the Proposed Amendments also add a section that details the discipline the Board may impose on individuals who practice podiatry without a license. Because traditional discipline such as license suspension or revocation are of no use in punishing an individual who is practicing without a license, the Proposed Amendments include a section permitting the Board to impose “civil administrative penalties” of up to $1,000 for a first violation and up to $2,500 for subsequent violations for the unlicensed practice of podiatry.

About the Author

Callan Stein

Callan Steina partner in the litigation department of Donoghue Barrett & Singal. He regularly represents small and large businesses in civil lawsuits, including discrimination and wrongful termination cases, and he also advises them on internal policies and procedures. You can follow him on Twitter at @CallanSteinEsq

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