Campaign raises orthotics safety concerns

Some providers unqualified and undertrained, local lab says.

Orthotic resident Thomas McManus, left, certified orthotist Karen Bohm and certified orthotist and prosthetist Marc Tessier hold a variety of custom-made orthotics. Tessier is CEO of Nipissing Orthopaedic Laboratory. Supplied photo

Special to The North Bay Nugget September 19, 2018

Nipissing Orthopaedic Laboratory Inc. is joining a national campaign over a growing concern that unqualified and undertrained providers are a potential danger to patient safety.

Launched by Orthotics Prosthetics Canada (OPC), the campaign comes at a time when certified orthotists say they are increasingly seeing custom-made ankle foot orthoses delivered by unqualified and undertrained providers that have been fabricated or fitted with glaring mistakes that place the health and well-being of patients at risk.

“OPC feels compelled to issue a warning to the public, health providers, government policy-makers and insurance companies about individuals providing custom ankle foot orthoses (AFOs or lower extremity braces) that they are not properly trained to provide,” says a release issued Tuesday. “OPC has been very quiet about this issue in the past, but believes the time has come to raise this nationally. This past week, OPC began a nationwide campaign to make people aware of the issue.”

It’s a matter of training and certification, Nipissing Orthopaedic Laboratory CEO Marc Tessier says in the release.

“We’re proud members of the group known as Orthotics Prosthetics Canada. This is the national credentialing organization for the orthotics and prosthetics profession,” he says. “The problem is, there are health care professionals operating right here in our area and nationwide that are not credentialed members of OPC and therefore can start making AFO devices for people with as little as three hours of training.”

Tessier, a certified prosthetist and orthotist with more than 35 years of experience, says “basically, anyone can promise to make you a device, no matter how little training they have.”

The concern is that this could endanger safety in a “very real way.”

According to the release, the current training benchmark for adequate entry to practice knowledge for certified orthotists delivering AFOs established by OPC, includes 280 hours of didactic, laboratory and clinical instruction within accredited clinical training programs. These hours do not include the practical experience obtained in AFO treatments during the two-year residency program, which successful graduates must complete prior to national certification exams in orthotics in order to receive the certified orthotist credential.

“We are now starting to see the results of these orthoses provided by inadequately trained people,” says Tessier. “They are causing problems around incorrect brace angles affecting the knees and other joints, improper fit causing skin breakdown and numerous other difficulties to folks here in North Bay and Nipissing. We’re having to treat them after the fact, and we agree that the public should be aware of this fact.”

Another issue is financial, says Tessier, explaining that certified orthotists across the country are discovering that some patients with conditions that could fall under provincial health care coverage such as Ontario assistive devices program, are not being informed of their eligibility and therefore are paying for these devices out of pocket.

“Unfortunately, the patient doesn’t know because they are not told this at the non-OPC affiliated business,” he says.

Source The North Bay Nugget

Also see
Approved orthotic service providers in Calgary
Who we are in Alberta Association of Orthotists and Prosthetists

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