House keeps ankles out of hands of foot doctors


ANNAPOLIS -- So the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone, and the ankle bone's connected to the foot bone.

And so if they're connected, Maryland's foot doctors say they ought to be allowed to work on the ankle as well as the foot.

But the House of Delegates sang a different tune yesterday.

"This is carrying surgery far beyond what a podiatrist should do," freshman Delegate Rose Mary Hatem Bonsack, D-Harford, a physician, told her colleagues in the House.

Foot doctors, she said, often do not have the education, training or experience to perform the types of procedures the bill would have permitted.

Delegate Virginia M. Thomas, D-Howard, the bill's sponsor, noted that doctors at several hospitals had said that they would grant credentials to podiatrists to perform surgery.

The state medical society, Delegate Thomas told the House, had backed the bill "with amendments."

But in a letter sent to the Environmental Matters Committee March 15, Gerard E. Evans, lobbyist for the medical society, said: "Let me make it perfectly clear, we are not pushing the bill in any way, shape or form, and I have urged no member of the committee to vote for this legislation."

In the end, the bill could not even get a leg up.

Only 66 delegates voted for it, five votes shy of the constitutional majority of 71 required for passage in the 141-member House.

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