Tennessee ophthalmologists dispute legislation allowing ODs to use injectable anesthesia

March 12, 2013

The Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology (TNAO) is opposing a recently filed bill (SB220/HB555) that, as amended, would allow optometrists to inject local anesthesia into the tissue surrounding the eye in order to perform surgery.

Nashville, TN-The Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology (TNAO) is opposing a recently filed bill (SB220/HB555) that, as amended, would allow optometrists to inject local anesthesia into the tissue surrounding the eye in order to perform surgery.

The legislation would expand optometrists’ scope of practice to allow them to inject anesthesia into the tissues surrounding the eyelid. Under the legislation, optometrists would be permitted to perform more advanced surgical procedures that require an injectable anesthetic.

“This legislation would create an unnecessary risk to patients and is a threat to the quality of surgical care in Tennessee,” said Ben Mahan, MD, president of the TNAO. “Anytime a needle is placed near the eye, there are serious risks to the patient that require clinical experience and expert judgment. A surgical error of just a few millimeters can result in a punctured eyeball and catastrophic vision loss.

“Whether it is injections to prepare for surgery or the surgery itself, patients have a right to know that the individual performing the procedure is a qualified medical doctor and surgeon,” Dr. Mahan said.

See the upcoming April issue of Optometry Times for deeper coverage on the Tennesee bill.

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