No Shortcuts to Surgery
Why optometric scope expansion bills endanger patient safety
By Rachel Reinhardt, MD
Scope, scope, and more scope. This is a term that we as ophthalmologists have had to incorporate into our daily vocabulary of late – especially those on the front lines of the fight to protect patient safety in state legislatures. As 2022 comes to a close, it’s important to reflect on legislative wins and losses across the country. Although we lost our patient safety battles in Virginia and Colorado, we celebrated a major win in California with the veto of an optometric scope expansion bill that would have allowed optometrists to perform scalpel and laser surgeries. Nonetheless, the fight for patient safety is far from finished.
It is easy to feel “battle fatigue” from the number of scope battles that come year after year, but it is important to remember that patient safety prevails far more than it fails. In other words, the vast majority of optometry’s attempts to expand scope have failed. But it takes an extraordinary amount of advocacy, energy, and money to keep our patients safe.