Podiatric surgery: The need for a second opinion
Referral and Consultation
A second-opinion podiatry program, designed to contain costs and enhance the quality of care, was established in the greater New York City area by the Building Service Employees' Health Fund. All nonemergency foot surgery recommended by a podiatrist that cost over $100 was included in this program. Of the 363 individuals who had a second opinion, 82 per cent were confirmed for surgery; however, the confirmation rate among those seeing a podiatrist serving as consultant was 94.3 per cent, while the confirmation rate of those seeing an orthopedists serving as consultant was 49.5 per cent. For every condition, the podiatrists overwhelmingly confirmed the need for surgery. Conversely, the orthopedists were more conservative in their recommendations regarding surgery. The program's cost was $311,813. If a second opinion consultation wasn't required for removal of corns or ingrown toenails, the total would be much less. It seems sensible (economically and medically) to encourage or require a consultation with an orthopedist for conditions such as bunions, hammertoes and heel spurs, and not to require a second opinion consultation for superficial podiatric conditions such as corns and ingrown toenails, which are treated predominantly by the podiatrist.