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State Medical Board Rescinds Pro-Podiatry Guidance

The State Medical Board of Ohio voted at its November meeting to retract a 2019 policy letter that determined it is within the scope of practice for an Ohio podiatrist to perform a supramalleolar osteotomy of the tibia or fibula to correct a deformity and harvest bone marrow aspirate from the proximal tibia.

The curious decision comes five months after the Board voted to commence the rule-making process on the two procedures at the instruction of Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) chairman Rep. Jamie Callender, who criticized the Board at a May JCARR hearing for issuing a policy letter instead of going through the administrative rule-making process.

Despite years of tradition of issuing policy letters in response to scope of practice questions from licensees, the Board voted to commence the rule-making process in May to avoid a directive from JCARR to issue a rule.

Throughout the summer, the Board solicited input from licensees on the podiatric scope of practice. OHFAMA, APMA, and over 30 OHFAMA members submitted letters encouraging the Board to put forward its pro-podiatry policy as a rule. These letters were countered by orthopedic associations, which argued the Board exceeded its statutory authority when it issued its 2019 guidance.

Rather than go through the rule-making process as expected, the Board opted to retract the letter, adopt a stance of neutrality on this issue, and direct licensees to consult with their institutions on questions relating to these procedures. A memo from the Board, issued November 23, reads:

In June 2019, the State Medical Board of Ohio considered a request from a podiatrist as to whether specific procedures were within the scope of practice of a podiatrist. Subsequently, we sought comments and after review of the comments, the board issued the following statement at the November 2021 meeting, withdrawing its June 2019 letter:

The board has considered the comments received as we started the rule-making process with respect to whether supramalleolar osteotomy of the tibia and fibula and the harvest of bone marrow aspirate from the proximal tibia are within the scope of practice of podiatry. Based upon this gathered information, the board determined that it has acted prematurely in this matter and that additional legislative guidance is necessary. Therefore, the board is withdrawing its statement on these two procedures. It is our understanding that podiatrists were credentialed to perform these procedures prior to the issuance of the board’s statement in 2019. It is recommended that providers work with their hospital systems and legal counsel going forward.

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