Navigation Top
AGO Logo Graphic
AGO Header Image
File a Complaint
Contact the AGO
AGO 1951 No. 458 - March 01, 1951
AGO Opinion Header Image
Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington


Chiropodists may not prescribe but may administer narcotics in general and post-operative treatment of the human foot and may administer whatever is proper for local anesthesia for operations they are legally entitled to perform.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                   March 1, 1951

Senator Corwin P. Shank
Washington State Senate
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                             Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 458

Dear Sir:

            In answer to your request of February 15, 1951, for an opinion of this office in which you state:

            "I would like to have your opinion clarifying the extent to which chiropodists may use narcotics as a local anaesthetic, and the right of chiropodists under this section of the code to administer narcotics, so as to deaden pain in both operative and post-operative care of the foot."

            our conclusions are:

            Chiropodists may not prescribe, but may administer as part of general and post-operative treatment of the human foot, narcotics or other drugs; and may administer whatever is proper for local anesthesia including narcotics for operations which they may legally perform.


            The present definition of the practice of chiropody, section 1, chapter 31, Laws of 1941 (§ 10074 Rem. Supp. 1941), amending earlier acts, limits treatment by chiropodists to the human foot in two ways, namely that treatment  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] by operations do not allow amputation of the foot or toes and further, does not allow the administration of an anesthetic other than local.  It reads as follows:


            "For the purposes of this act the practice of chiropody is defined to be the diagnosis and the medical, surgical, mechanical, manipulative and electrical treatment of ailments of the human foot, excepting amputation of the foot or toes or the administration of an anesthetic other than local and excepting treatment of systemic conditions or the results and complications thereof."

            A study of chapter 38, Laws of 1917, as amended by chapter 120, Laws of 1921, reveals that chiropodists do not come within the realm of medical doctor or physician and it therefore appears that under the provisions relative to narcotics, such as chapter 47, Laws of 1923 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 2509, et seq.) the term "physician" does not include chiropodists unless said persons are also possessed of a license to practice medicine and surgery in this state.

            Section 2 of said act defines the term "narcotic drugs."  Section 3 makes it unlawful for any person to sell, furnish, dispose, or have in his possession any narcotic drug or drugs except upon the written and signed prescription of a physician, and by section 1, chapter 57, Laws of 1945 (§ 2509-15 Rem. Supp. 1945) it was made unlawful for anyone to sell, give away, barter, exchange or distribute many drugs and compounds except upon the written order or prescription of a physician, surgeon, dentist or veterinary surgeon.

            Inasmuch as chiropodists are licensed to perform said operations and are permitted to administer local anesthesia it must follow that they are authorized to do whatever is necessary in order to insure successful operations within their scope unless expressly denied that right.  It would, therefore, follow that although chiropodists may not prescribe narcotics for treatment, they may administer whatever is necessary for treatment, including post-operative treatment, and may use whatever is accepted as a local anesthetic for operations.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Content Bottom Graphic
AGO Logo