Governor Newsom correctly cites dangerous lack of medical training and knowledge among optometrists
SEATTLE, Sept. 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (WAEPS) announced today that it endorses California Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to veto Assembly Bill 2236, which would dangerously expand the optometric scope of practice in California, to include medical and surgical procedures.
In his letter sending the bill back to the California State Assembly, Governor Newsom correctly notes that:
“This bill would allow optometrists to perform advanced surgical procedures with less than one year of training. In comparison, physicians who perform these procedures must complete at least a three-year medical residency program.”
Optometrists are not medical doctors. They do not attend medical school. They have a Doctorate of Optometry, which is not a medical degree and requires no medical or surgical residency.
“Classroom learning cannot replace the years of supervised surgical instruction that ophthalmologists receive in residency,” said Dr. Courtney Francis, MD, President of WAEPS and a practicing ophthalmologist in Seattle. “Often patients do not realize that theirs may be the first surgical procedure ever performed by their optometrist. This is extremely dangerous. It jeopardizes each patient’s eye health.”
Additionally, optometric practices typically do not track surgical errors or complications in routine record-keeping. “Data on poor outcomes are not routinely measured or reported,” said Dr. Francis. “This makes tracking such mistakes practically impossible for patients and regulatory groups. That is not the case in ophthalmologists’ practices.”
“The tissues of the eye are among the most delicate in the human body. Patients should be provided the highest level of care suited to their conditions,” concluded Dr. Francis in commending the California governor’s veto.
WAEPS anticipates that optometrists will request legislation similar to the vetoed California legislation when the Washington Legislature convenes in January 2023. WAEPS, together with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Washington State Medical Association, will actively oppose any such legislation.
The Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons is an organization comprised of medical doctors uniquely trained in the medical and surgical care of the eye. WAEPS serves the educational and professional needs of its member ophthalmologists and is devoted to promoting the health and well-being of the citizens of Washington.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Alex Thompson, Fearey for WAEPS
(202) 793-0019, [email protected]
SOURCE Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (WAEPS)