Bill to expand optometrist scope of practice stalls in Assembly committee

July 15, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Scope of Practice 

Sacramento – On Tuesday July 14, Senate Bill 622 (Hernandez) was held in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. The bill would have expanded scope of practice for optometrists, allowing them to perform an array of surgical procedures with little additional training.

“It’s clear that members of the committee saw the potential dangers of SB 622,” said Luther F. Cobb, M.D., California Medical Association (CMA) president. “Allowing practitioners to perform procedures they simply aren’t trained to do can only lead to unpredictable outcomes, higher costs and greater fragmentation of care.”

Leah Levi, M.D., president of the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (CAEPS), added “We are pleased that our patient safety message appears to have resonated here. The privilege to perform the delicate eye surgeries sought under SB 622 – which are hardly ‘minor’ procedures as suggested by optometrists advocating for the bill – should only be granted with commensurate education and experience.”

A few years ago, eight veterans suffered “significant” vision loss, and another 23 suffered progressive vision loss, after optometrists at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System ignored requirements to refer glaucoma patients to an ophthalmologist so that their so their glaucoma treatment could be appropriately monitored by a physician specialist.

Organizations voicing their opposition to the bill included the California Academy of Family Physicians, the California Psychiatric Association, the California Orthopaedic Association, the California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, and the California Society of Anesthesiologists, in addition to CMA and CAEPS.


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