Patients are being duped by medics who inappropriately use the title surgeon, it has been claimed.
Doctors have called for the Government to legally protect the term after a number of patients have come forward following botched operations by people holding the title.
Patient Bill Crampin said his visit to a podiatric surgeon, who had no medical degree, was a "complete disaster".
The 66-year-old architect from Nottingham said his quality of life is a "shadow" of what it was following a bungled operation by the surgeon - who he assumed was medically qualified.
In June 2008 he went to a Harley Street podiatric surgeon to correct a problem of "going over" on the out-step of his right foot.
The medic told Mr Crampin he needed a sub-talar operation which involves a screw being inserted between the heel bone and the one above to lock them together to prevent the overturning movement. But the surgery was a failure and it left Mr Crampin unable to walk without being in considerable pain.
Mr Crampin went to see an orthopaedic surgeon who informed him that he had had the wrong operation on the wrong part of his foot. He was forced to have corrective surgery.
Podiatric surgeons do not need a medical degree but instead train only in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of the foot which leaves them unable to treat the patient as a whole.
The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) said the research indicated the "overwhelming level of public trust" in the job title.
The RCS said that at present there are no legal restrictions about who can and can't be called a surgeon and it wants the Government to create legislation so only those who have qualified as a medical doctor and undertaken post-graduate surgical training can have the title.