FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

PODIATRY PRACTICE GENERALLY

1.   Do I need a referral from a doctor to see a podiatrist ?

No, patients do not need a referral to see a podiatrist.   You may contact and make an appointment directly with a podiatrist’s office at any time.

To locate a podiatrist near you, see the ‘Podiatrist Directory’ on this website.

 

2.   Nevertheless, can I get a referral to a podiatrist and do podiatrists accept referrals ?

Yes, many general medical practitioners including family doctors as well as other health care practitioners will refer patients to podiatrists for focused expert care of the lower leg and foot.

 

3.   Does MSP pay for podiatrist services ?

Some but not all podiatric services are covered by the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).

For all patients, the MSP pays for surgery up to the maximum scheduled amount.

For patients who are on income assistance, MSP pays for a wider range of podiatric services, up to the maximum scheduled amount for each.  These patients have coverage for up to 10 visits a year.

 

4.    Are podiatrists permitted to extra-bill over and above what is covered by MSP ?

Yes.  There are two main reasons.

One is that not all podiatry services are covered by MSP and for most patients, most podiatry care is not covered with the exception of surgery up to certain limits.

In addition, a contributing factor is that MSP rates for podiatry have not been increased for about 25 years.  Thus, even where MSP provides some coverage, the amount provided does not adequately address current day costs for practitioners, and for this reason most podiatrists will bill an additional amount to the patient over and above the MSP coverage.

 

5.    Does extended insurance coverage pay for podiatry services ?

Possibly – the answer depends on the exact terms of the coverage policy.  Many plans do have some degree of coverage for some or all podiatric services.

Patients who have supplemental coverage through extended health insurers, First Nations programs and Veterans programs often have additional coverage for various podiatric services, including for orthotics.

 

6.    How can I find a podiatrist ?

To locate a podiatrist near you, see the ‘Podiatrist Directory’ on this website.

The College has a geographical directory with addresses and phone numbers of all podiatrists who are registered and licensed to practise medicine in B.C.

The College must rely on registrants to alert the College immediately to any changes in order to keep their practice location and contact information updated between the yearly updates that are provided with registration renewal.

Patients may also select a podiatrist by consulting with friends, colleagues or other health care practitioners for recommendations.

As well many podiatrists have websites and virtually all are listed in community directories.

 

7.    Do podiatrists perform surgery ?

Yes, the scope of practice of podiatric medicine includes surgery, which can involve the soft tissues or bones of the lower leg (ankle area) and foot.

Serious surgeries may be performed under deep sedation or general anaesthesia at a surgery centre or hospital.  Many podiatrists perform less serious surgery under local anesthetic or light sedation in their clinics.

Learn more about the scope of practice of podiatric medicine.

 

8.    What can I expect when I see a podiatrist ?

On a first visit to a podiatrist, a podiatrist will normally take a full history, examine the patient, assess the patient’s condition or symptoms, make recommendations for and perform diagnostic investigations to attempt to arrive at a diagnosis or cause for the patient’s complaint, and recommend options for and perform treatment.

The podiatrist may arrive at a list of possible (‘differential’) diagnoses, and ultimately usually a final working diagnosis, and prescribe appropriate treatment interventions.

In British Columbia patients can expect to see qualified, competent, ethical and professional podiatrists who meet high standards of competence, ethics, safety and efficacy in their practice.

 

9.    Will there be any follow-up care by the podiatrist ?

Podiatrists should see patients for follow up appointments where appropriate to the case including when the patient has concerns or questions.

 

10.   What if my usual podiatrist is not available ?

Podiatrists should have arrangements in place to ensure that they or another practitioner are readily available for any post treatment complications or concerns, and should make patients aware of these arrangements.

 

11.   Do podiatrists provide ‘alternative’ or complementary care ?

Podiatric medicine is a ‘single track’ medical profession. Like general medicine, podiatry is based on a traditional or allopathic model, which means that it is based on objective evidence obtained from peer reviewed scientific research.

Complementary and alternative treatment modalities are permitted in podiatry practice, but not to the exclusion of other treatment options.

In every case practitioners must consider all appropriate diagnostic investigations and treatments for patients, and ensure that these are communicated clearly in every case to the patient, in order that the patient is able to provide informed consent to any and all podiatric health care services that are rendered.

 

See also FAQs about podiatrists’ medical records, billing and prescriptions.