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05 Jul 2013

The AMA has expressed disappointment that ophthalmologists have been forced to take legal action to help safeguard quality care for people suffering glaucoma.

The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists have launched action in the Supreme Court of Queensland challenging a decision of the Optometry Board of Australia to extend the scope of practice to allow optometrists to diagnose and treat glaucoma without ophthalmic oversight.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said that, in the interests of quality patient care, the nation’s health ministers must ensure that the Optometry Board reverses its decision.

“The Optometry Board have made it possible for optometrists to commence treatment for patients with, or at high risk of developing, chronic glaucoma, and to initiate therapy without reference to an ophthalmologist,” Dr Hambleton said.

“There is a very real risk of inappropriate treatment of glaucoma patients by optometrists who undertake treatment outside of collaborative care arrangements with an ophthalmologist.

“Progression of this disease cannot be turned around. It is in the best interests of patients that their glaucoma be managed under arrangements that provide the best outcomes.”

The AMA President said that, in making its decision, the Optometry Board had failed to safeguard the interests of those suffering glaucoma, now and in the future.

“This is not an example of health reform. This is an example of the fragmentation of health care, which is the enemy of quality care, the enemy of efficient care, and the enemy of affordable care.”

5 July 2013

CONTACT:         Kirsty Waterford                  02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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Published: 05 Jul 2013