Optometrist directed to repay $57,000 to Commonwealth; disqualified from making certain claims for 6 months

An optometrist whose name will not been revealed in accordance with section 92 of the Health Insurance Act , has been directed to repay $57,059.01 to the Commonwealth.

The optometrist was also disqualified from rendering MBS items 10913 and 10914 for six months.

Professional Services Review committee decision

The directions were made by the Professional Services  Review committee on 27 October, after it concluded that the optometrist engaged inappropriate practice in connection with rendering MBS items10913 and 10914.

The committee found that the practitioner’s record-keeping in connection with the MBS items 10913 and 10914 services that it reviewed was, on occasion, inadequate. That occurred when, for example, history, diagnoses, follow-up arrangements or examination findings were either not recorded or not recorded in sufficient detail.

Patient must be seen by optometrist at same practice

MBS item 10913 requires, amongst other things, that a patient with new signs or symptoms previously been seen at the same practice as the providing optometrist. In the committee’s view, that meant the patient must be seen by an optometrist at the same physical practice, not at another practice within a corporate group.

The committee’s view was that failure to meet that regulatory requirement on its own and in the absence of any other conduct of concern would be considered unacceptable to the general

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By | December 16th, 2018|Legal|

Medicos agree to repay a total of $3.25m to the Commonwealth

Medical practitioners (seven GPs and four described as ‘medical practitioners’) agreed to repay a total of $3.25 million to the Commonwealth.

They did so under an agreement with the director of the Professional Services Review in October 2018.

The repayments were in acknowledgment they engaged in inappropriate practice in connection with providing certain Medicare item numbers, involving amounts from $10,000 to as high as $995,000.

In some instances bans were imposed on the rendering of services under certain item numbers.


By | December 16th, 2018|Legal|

Medical students renew call for check of health of refugees and asylum seekers

The Australian Medical Students’ Association, the peak representative body of Australia’s 17,000 medical students, has welcomed news that a refugee from Nauru with a terminal diagnosis of lung cancer has been transferred to Australia for appropriate palliative care.

Both the Australian Border Force and the Department of Home Affairs had previously refused the transfer.

Ms Adele Evans, the coordinator of AMSA Crossing Borders, AMSA’s advocacy group for refugee and asylum seeker health, on 25 June said the health-care services on Nauru are not equipped to take care of the man.

“The end of a man’s life is not a time for politics. He has the right to treatment and pain relief in Australia,” Ms Evans said.

Patient’s right of care

“ABF and DoHA have acknowledged this patient’s right to care in Australia, and we hope to see continuing of treatment of other refugees under Australia’s care.

“The man’s case is not unique. There are many other refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres who are receiving inadequate health care,” Ms Evans said.

AMSA believes that asylum-seekers’ health, especially their mental health, continues to deteriorate as they are indefinitely detained

“Australia is failing to provide refugees and asylum seekers with access to appropriate health care,” Ms Evans said. “DoHA has repeatedly claimed that refugees and asylum seekers in detention

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By | July 1st, 2018|Legal|

New tool about testimonials to help advertisers ‘get it right’

A new tool to help practitioners and advertisers understand their obligations about using testimonials and reviews to advertise regulated health services is now available.

The testimonials tool is the latest in a series of resources and support materials developed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and National Boards to help health practitioners, health-care providers and other advertisers of regulated health services to comply with the National Law1.

The tool includes information and flow charts to help practitioners and advertisers understand why testimonials are not allowed and which reviews or feedback can be used in advertising.

Under section 133(1) of the National Law a person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business.

In the context of the National Law, advertising includes any public communication that promotes a regulated health service such as all forms of printed and electronic media and a testimonial includes recommendations or statements about the clinical aspects of a regulated health service.

The chief executive officer of AHPRA, Mr Martin Fletcher, said advertising had changed dramatically in the last decade.

“Websites and social media have increasingly evolved into major marketing tools,” Mr Fletcher said.

“The National Boards and AHPRA recognise that these

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By | June 11th, 2018|Legal|

33 complaints against optometrists in past year; 27 notifications closed, 15 being monitored

The annual report of the Optometry Board of Australia for 2016-17 (recently published) shows:

  • 33 notifications (complaints or concerns) were lodged with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency about optometrists in 2016/17.1
  • 1% of the optometry registrant base were the subject of a notification (compared with 1.6% of all registered health practitioners).2
  • Immediate action was taken twice; one case resulted in suspension of an optometrist’s registration while a notification was investigated.
  • One mandatory notification was lodged with AHPRA about an optometrist in 2016/17.
  • 27 notifications were closed.
  • 15 optometrists were being monitored for compliance with restrictions on their registration as at 30 June 2017. Most monitoring cases related to suitability/eligibility for registration.
  • 23 statutory offence complaints were made about the profession – all but one related to alleged advertising breaches.

The chairman of the OBA, Mr Ian Bluntish, says in the report the board worked in partnership with AHPRA to convict a person who held themselves out to be an optometrist.

Of all jurisdictions, Victoria (14 notifications) and Queensland (eight notifications) accounted for approximately two-thirds of all notifications relating to optometrists in 2016-17.

By | April 29th, 2018|Legal|

Opternative and Institute for Justice to appeal South Carolina law banning online eye exams

Representatives from the online eye testing company Opternative and the Institute for Justice, a Chicago-based advocacy group, announced plans to move forward with an appeal to Judge DeAndrea Benjamin’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Opternative. In January, 2018 Judge Benjamin ruled that Opternative lacks legal standing to challenge the law that barred it from doing business in South Carolina. The case, Opternative v. South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners, was filed by the Institute for Justice on behalf of Opternative. Opternative’s services are available in states across the country, but not in South Carolina.but not in South Carolina.

In 2016, the South Carolina legislature passed the “Eye Care Consumer Protection Law” (ECCPL) that outlawed Opternative, which then stopped operating in South Carolina.

Opternative sued, arguing that the South Carolina Constitution does not allow the government to regulate for the sole purpose of protecting one private group from competition.

Opternative said it is appealing the judge’s ruling because it did not address the constitutionality of the statute.

“We are grateful for the support of the Institute for Justice and we look forward to being able to offer low cost online vision tests in South Carolina,” Opternative’s chief executive officer, Mr Brent Rasmussen, said.

The Institute of Justice is a non-profit libertarian public-interest

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By | March 4th, 2018|Legal|

NZ optometrist missed brain tumour of six-year-old; prescribed glasses

An optometrist in New Zealand misdiagnosed a six-year-old boy with a brain tumour, instead prescribing glasses. The unnamed boy was left blind in one eye.

It is understood the unnamed optometrist no longer works as an optometrist.

The Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner in New Zealand, Ms Meenai Dugga,l found numerous breaches by the optometrist of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, releading her findings on 12 February.

Ms Meenai also found the unnamed optometry practice liable for the optometrist’s inadequate care.

The optometrist first saw the boy in 2014 and did not perform appropriate


By | February 18th, 2018|Legal|

Visually-impaired driver jailed in UK after killing pedestrian

A driver in the West Midlands in the United Kingdom has been sentenced to three years in jail for killing a pedestrian he could not see due to his low vision, according to press reports.

According to The Express and Star, driver Peter Scriven’s Nissan car struck 65-year-old pedestrian Arthur Fletcher, who was thrown onto the other carriageway and killed in Dudley last December.

The report from Wolverhampton Crown Court said Mr Scriven, 60, was blind in one eye and had reduced sight in the other but had not been for an eye examination or disclosed his condition to the DVLA. He could not read a registration number more than three metres away when tested.

Mr Scriven pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was also given a three-and-a-half-year driving ban.


By | November 22nd, 2017|Legal|

Poor-sighted driver given suspended sentence after fatal accident

A man in the United Kingdom convicted of causing death by careless driving has been given a suspended three-month jail term after driving into the path of a motorcyclist just a few weeks after having his eyes tested.

According to BBC News, the driver, Mr William Searle, 74, told Exeter Crown Court he “did not see” Jerry Daniell’s motorcycle as he drove off a garage forecourt in Newton Abbot, Devon last September.

He reportedly told the court this was two weeks after having an eye examination at Specsavers, but he failed the number-plate test wearing his glasses on the day of the tragedy.

An ophthalmologist told the court that Mr Searle’s diabetes may have resulted in the development of blind spots, and he was banned from driving for 18 months.

A Specsavers spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragic accident. If a visual field and visual acuity assessment are required by DVLA to inform decisions on individual driving licence renewals, applicants are referred to their choice of Specsavers store for the visual assessment.

“The optometrist has accompanying responsibilities to ensure all applicable General Optical Council guidance and requirements are followed. The outcome of the assessment is then sent to the DVLA which makes the licensing decision.”


By | November 19th, 2017|Legal|