By: Julie Therou Zechel, Deputy Registrar

This article appeared in issue 108 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

You Asked, We Answer

One of the most common questions we receive in our office, from Opticians and members of the public, is; do prescriptions expire? This seems like a question that should be answered with a simple yes or no, but there is more to this question than meets the eye.

Why do prescriptions have an expiry date on them?
Most of the prescriptions you see in your office will have been issued by an Optometrist. According to the Alberta College of Optometrist’s Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines (supplemental documents to their Standards of Practice) all spectacle prescriptions and contact lens specifications must include an expiry date.

Can an office refuse to release a prescription if it is past the expiry date?
According to the Health Information Act (HIA), “an individual has a right of access to any record containing health information about the individual that is in the custody or under the control of a custodian.” (Province of Alberta – HIA(1) Prescription Expiry Dates Julie Therou Zechel, Deputy Registrar 16 2017, Part 2, 7(1)) This means a patient has a right to a copy of any information contained in their file including current and historical prescriptions.

Under specific circumstances, as per the HIA, a custodian may refuse to release information to a patient. Examples of when a patient may be refused access would most commonly occur if the disclosure could reasonably be expected:
• to result in immediate and grave harm to the applicant’s mental or physical health or safety,
• to threaten the mental or physical health or safety of another individual, or
• to pose a threat to public safety (Province of Alberta – HIA(2) 2017, Part 2, 11(1)-11(2))

A good rule of thumb is to contact the prescriber’s office if they refuse to release a prescription and ask why. If the answer is just because it is past the expiry date, that is not a sufficient explanation. If the answer is that the prescriber has advised to hold the prescription(s) due to a reasonable explanation as noted above, you then have an opportunity to work with them to make sure your patient gets the best possible care and that you are not filling a prescription
that might cause them harm. If you feel a patient has been refused access to their information without a sufficient explanation you may direct them to the prescriber’s regulatory body or to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to lodge an inquiry or complaint.

Can an Optician use a prescription that is past the expiry date?
Alberta Opticians Profession Regulations state that “a regulated member who dispenses corrective lenses for the purpose of dispensing eyeglasses may do so only
(a) in accordance with a prescription from a person who is authorized to prescribe corrective lenses, or
(b) when the lenses are being duplicated with no change in refractive value.” (Province of Alberta – Opticians Regulation 2011, Section 10(2))

Further, our Standards of Practice state that “prescriptions for eyeglasses, contact lenses or subnormal vision devices do not expire; however, an Optician must inform their patient of the importance of regular eye health assessments and recommend that patients have their eyes tested regularly.” (ACAO – Standards 2009, Standard 6). It is up to each regulated health professional to use their professional judgement to decide whether or not to use a prescription that is past the documented expiry date.

When should an Optician refuse to use a prescription that is past the expiry date?
When a patient asks an Optician to fill a prescription, it is the Optician’s professional responsibility to determine whether the prescription may need to be updated, to explain this to the patient and to provide recommendations using his or her professional judgment. Opticians are advised to record these recommendations in the patient’s file. You should refuse to use a prescription that is past the documented expiry date when your professional judgement tells you it is not in the patient’s best interest. At no time is an Optician required or expected to use a prescription unless he or she has decided it is in the best interests of the patient to do so. The primary consideration should always be the best interests of the patient.

 

Resources

ACAO – Standards of Practice. 2009.

ACO Evidence Based Clinical Practice Guidelines – Contact Lenses. 2015.

ACO Evidence Based Clinical Practice Guidelines – Spectacle Therapy. 2016.

Canadian Ophthalmological Society Evidence Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for Periodic Eye Examinations in Adults in Canada. 2006.

Province of Alberta – Health Information Act. 2017.

Province of Alberta – Opticians Regulation. 2011.

By: Sandi Williamson-Regulatory Standards Director

This article appeared in issue 108 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

Occupational Health and Safety Act Update

It is extremely important that opticians, as health professionals, know the ins and outs of occupational health and safety. We have a duty not just to ourselves but to our patients. On June 1 2018 changes were implemented in the Occupational Health and Safety act. Highlights of these
changes are as follows.

The Alberta Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act establishes minimum standards for healthy and safe practices in Alberta workplaces. Alberta had not undertaken a comprehensive review of its OHS legislation since it was enacted in 1976. Wide-reaching changes were made including providing for basic workers’ rights for and instituting the principle that everyone in the workplace is responsible for health and safety. Starting June 1, workers have three basic rights:

• The right to refuse dangerous work.
• The right to know.
• The right to participate.

Right to refuse dangerous work
Workers have the right to refuse dangerous work and are protected from reprisal for exercising this right:
• Workers must continue to be paid while a work refusal is being investigated.
• Employers must ensure workers understand the hazards at the workplace, know what needs to be
reported and have the support to exercise their right.
• Employers must investigate the matter in cooperation with the joint worksite health and safety
committee or health and safety representative, if applicable.
• Employers cannot take or threaten discriminatory action against a worker for exercising their rights
and duties under the legislation.
• Other workers may be assigned to the work if they are advised of the refusal, reason for it and are
made aware of their own right to refuse work after the employer determines there is not a risk.

Right to know
Workers have the right to know of potential hazards and have access to basic health and safety information
in the workplace:
• All employers must inform workers about potential hazards.
• All worksite parties must ensure information about health and safety hazards is available onsite.

Right to participate
Workers have the right to:
• Be involved in health and safety discussions.
• Participate in health and safety committees.

At the ACAO we offer not just one, but two OH&S courses, to give you a full breadth of knowledge on the subject. Both courses can be taken for credit and are available on our website.

By: Maureen Hussey, RO, RCLP, Execuitve Director / Registrar

This article appeared in issue 107 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

We have all had the patient who has asked us to do something inappropriate. We know that common practice among most of our members is to refuse to be involved in indiscretions.

We know that all of our members know that it is wrong to back date a receipt or make it look like the daughter of the patient got the glasses and not their neighbour. We know it is wrong to say something was prescription and not plano sunglass. We know that it is wrong to bill the insurance company more than the glasses cost and put the balance on account for next time.

What if we did it anyways? What if we justified with “plano is a prescription” or “big insurance companies won’t miss the few dollars involved” or “it’s their money, they deserve it”.

What if…

Read More

By: Julie Therou Zechel, RO, RCLP Regulatory Standards Director

This article appeared in issue 106 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

After submitting your 2018 renewal online, you were invited to participate in an online survey of our members. This survey was developed to garner feedback about your interactions with us, your experiences with our online platforms, and some of the programs and services we provide. We will be using the results from approximately 350 responses we received to refine our communication style, update our online platforms to be more useful, and to provide feedback to your council about the programs and services that you have indicated should be a priority.

Throughout 2018, we will share the results of this survey, but for now, we wanted to take this opportunity to address some of comments that stuck out to us as we reviewed your responses.

Read More

By: Lisa Bannerman, RO, RCLP

This article appeared in issue 105 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

A practice resource including all four (4) parts of this article series is available on our website under Practice Resources. An optional quiz, worth 2EC credits is available following the practice resource.

In the winter, spring and summer 2017 newsletters I covered information pertaining to a question received at the office that involved a patient file and a possible privacy breach.  In order to improve my own understanding of privacy regulation, I decided to do a little research, and share this information with all members through a series of articles. This is the fourth and final one of the series.

As regulated healthcare practitioners in Alberta, opticians are bound by the statutes, regulations and standards of practice in place.  The ACAO puts together information like this article, the Code of Conduct sessions, and programs like Practice Review to help our members learn about issues like privacy so that they understand and are prepared for the safe provision of health services to the public.

Read More

The following statistics resulted from a survey of our members in 2017. The survey was open to all registered members of the ACAO and had a total of 231 respondents.

Average annual salary (all respondents): approx. $60,000 – $70,000

pie chart showing percentages of each reported salary

121 members reported, September 1, 2017
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By: Lisa Bannerman, RO, RCLP

This article appeared in issue 104 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

A practice resource including all four (4) parts of this article series is available on our website under Practice Resources. An optional quiz, worth 2EC credits is available following the practice resource.

In the winter and spring 2017 newsletters, I wrote the first two parts of an article on privacy.  This was in response to a question received at the office that involved a patient file and a possible privacy breach.  Privacy regulation is an area that is fairly new to most of us, and somewhat intimidating.  Opticians don’t want to jeopardize an individual’s right to privacy, and we also need to be able to do our jobs as health care providers.  In order to improve my own understanding, I decided to do a little research, and share this information with all members through this series of articles.

Read More

By: Lisa Bannerman, RO, RCLP

This article appeared in issue 103 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

You asked, and we answered! For the first time in years, the ACAO finally hosted an event specifically for contact lenses. On February 25th and 26th of 2017, members joined us for the Contact Lens Symposium at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre in Calgary. This event featured two full days of contact lens content, and included seminars, product information sessions, and two hands-on learning stations.

Read More

By: Julie Therou, RO, RCLP & Lisa Bannerman, RO, RCLP

This article appeared in issue 103 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

We are probably all in agreement that staying relevant and up to date in our profession is important, but because continuing education is a mandated requirement, there seems to be a natural tendency to fight it to a certain degree. Every three years, as the continuing education cycle comes to an end on June 30th, we get lots of calls in the office asking questions about con-ed, how members can get credits, why credits are needed at all and, of course, why some con-ed opportunities cost so much while others are free. We are happy to field individual questions as they come, but thought we would take this opportunity to address some of the most asked questions and hopefully help our members look at con- ed as an opportunity rather than a requirement.

Read More

By: Lisa Bannerman, RO, RCLP

This article appeared in issue 103 of the Eighth Line Newsletter, and has been edited for easier viewing on the web. Some of the information in this article may be out of date. Refer to our current static website pages for correct information.

A practice resource including all four (4) parts of this article series is available on our website under Practice Resources. An optional quiz, worth 2EC credits is available following the practice resource.

In issue 102 (winter 2017) of the Eighth Line, I wrote part one of a piece on privacy.  This was in response to a question received at the office that involved a patient file and a possible privacy breach.  Privacy regulation is an area that is fairly new to most of us, and somewhat intimidating.  Opticians don’t want to jeopardize an individual’s right to privacy, and we also need to be able to do our jobs as health care providers.  In order to improve my own understanding, I decided to do a little research, and share this information with all members through this series of articles.

As regulated healthcare practitioners in Alberta, opticians are bound by the statutes, regulations and standards of practice in place.  The ACAO puts together information such as this article, sessions like the Code of Conduct and programs like Practice Review to help our members learn about issues like privacy so that they understand and are prepared for the provision of health services to the public.

Read More