By Paul Henry / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Twenty-year-old Maddy Rose would love to chase little Levi at the beach… But every step she takes is painful… Going barefoot will never be an option. MADDY: “My foot from right around here is completely numb…” “I can’t move my first three toes…” “It’s tingly. It still gets sharp pains.” Three years ago, the once-sporty Tauranga student… Went to this podiatric surgeon, Stefan Edwards. She says he diagnosed a tight plantar fascia… The tissue between the heel and toes… And booked her in very next day for an op in this walk-in clinic. Eight days later he did the other foot… Damaging a nerve. MADDY: “He was very very confident and very convincing…” “And we thought, ‘He’s a surgeon…'” “‘He knows what he’s doing…'” “And we trusted him.” Stefan Edwards is one of just three podiatric surgeons registered in New Zealand. They are legally able to operate on feet and ankles under local… But aren’t required to have gone to Med School. Edwards has a science degree specialising in podiatric medicine… And completed a three-year correspondence course… From an American podiatric college. That involved less than three months hands-on surgical supervision. Newshub has talked to several orthopaedic surgeons… Who say they’ve had to correct Edwards’ work. One specialist told us he found a joint implant designed for a finger… Had been put into a toe. He also found the site so infected, the patient risked amputation. *HOSPITAL BEEPING* MAXWELL: “Yes, we’ve got members who are having to…” “Pick up the pieces, so to speak…” “Because when things go wrong…” “It’s us that has to try and do remedial work if possible.” Orthopaedic surgeons admit complications can happen to anyone… But say their 13 years surgical training makes a difference. MAXWELL: “Podiatrists are valued colleagues of ours…” “We’re not talking about podiatrists in general…” “We work with them all the time.” “But the surgical podiatrists are the ones that are concerning.” “There is a tendency for them to overstate their credentials…” “By using the word surgeon.” Maddy spent a year in pain, trusting repeated reassurances from Edwards… Before getting a second opinion from an orthopaedic surgeon. WALLIS: “What they did find was…” “It was a healthy fascia, so it had not been cut at all…” “However what they found was the main motor nerve had been…” “Transected and was damaged.” The Health and Disability Commissioner says it’s had complaints… About more than one podiatric surgeon over the years. At least five allegations against Edwards are currently being investigated… By the Podiatrists Board. Stefan Edwards has told Newshub he “denies the allegations”… And has provided “a full explanation of all the complaints.” The Board’s committee investigating him’s been at it for two years though… And still no final ruling. MADDY: “The thing is, he’s playing with other people’s lives in the meantime…” “He’s still allowed to keep going.” While Stefan Edwards remains under investigation… The Podiatrists Board has told us he now faces restrictions. He must file monthly reports of his surgery… And all surgery must be supervised by a current practising orthopaedic surgeon… Or another registered podiatric surgeon. But Newshub understands the podiatric surgeon supervising him… Lives five hours away in Palmerston North. WALLIS: “I’m wondering what that supervision looks like, to be honest…” “I’m kind of not sure how that would occur if…” “The supervisor is so far away?” The Podiatrists Board wouldn’t go on camera… But 2018 High Court documents disclose the extent of their concerns. In them, the Board states the number of similar complaints about Edwards… Reveal “a concerning pattern of behaviour”… And that his surgery poses an… “Ongoing risk of serious harm to the public.” RUTHERFORD: “Mr Edwards are you able to give us an indication…” “Of whether you are still performing podiatric surgery…” “Now your terms of practise have been altered?” Stefan Edwards wouldn’t answer that… Or any of the other questions we put to him… But the group representing the wider podiatry community says… Consumers deserve more transparency. PELVIN: “The public are being let down by the system.” “When a health practitioner has a condition placed on their practicing certificate…” “The public will not necessarily be aware of what that means…” How much longer complainants, and Edwards… Have to wait for a decision is still unclear. But the Health and Disability Commissioner does stress… If you need an op of any kind… Get a referral from the GP first.

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