Providing Contact Lens Prescriptions
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
Since early February we've been providing all of our patients whom we've successfully fit with contact lenses with their contact lens prescriptions. In most cases we do this after we've already ordered their lenses and with little fanfare. Besides the complete lens prescription, make sure that contact lens prescriptions include:
- Patient's name and date of birth
- Your office hours along with your phone and fax numbers, name and address
- Exam date, prescription issue date, expiration date and a "do not fill after" date
- Date for the next office visit
- Quantity of lenses, wearing schedule, care regimen and care schedule
- "No substitutions"
- Your signature and license number
- A disclaimer such as, "Wear of these medical devices requires ongoing care. If you experience blurred vision, discomfort or eye redness, remove your lenses and call our office immediately or contact a nearby eyecare professional"
For optimal care, when another supplier asks you about filling a prescription, it may be a good time to call the patient about an examination.
The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA) requires that you automatically give patients a copy of their contact lens prescription whether or not they request it, as in the long-existing Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Eyeglasses Rule. You can't charge a fee for the prescription alone. I judge fitting to be complete when you order lenses to dispense to a patient and release him for long-term (three months or longer) follow up and his eye is within normal limits. You don't have to provide the prescription if a patient hasn't paid for the fitting or if a documented, clinically significant medical finding (such as significant corneal abrasion or infiltrative keratitis) puts him at risk.
You must communicate with a seller within eight business hours, or a similar time frame as defined by the FTC, after receiving from the seller a verification request. If you don't, then the seller can sell lenses to the patient without verification. The FTC can't fine you for allowing the eight business hours to elapse.
Section 7 of the FCLCA exempts you from liability for ophthalmic goods and services dispensed by another seller pursuant to your correctly verified prescription. However, if the prescription that the seller communicates to you is inaccurate, then you must correct it or you'll face fines and potential malpractice lawsuits.
Section 5 of the FCLCA sets a one-year expiration date for contact lens prescriptions, unless a state law sets a longer expiration date.
Although this new act needs improvement (such as taking prescriptions out of circulation once filled), it's more in the right direction. Thanks to all of the organizations that worked to make it as good as it is.