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Optometrist criticised over patient's care

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/12/2016

An optometrist has been told to apologise to a patient for failing to provide appropriate advice to the woman, who later underwent surgery for a detached retina.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Meenal Duggal recommended that the clinic where the optometrist worked should use the report of her findings as a case study for its staff.

She also recommended that the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board should consider whether there should be a review of the optometrist's competence, if he returned to practise.

In her report, Ms Duggal said the patient, a 55-year-old woman, had gone to see the optometrist in October 2015 and told him that she was having difficulty with her right eye.

The optometrist considered that the cause was a solid string of vitreous in the eye and decided not to dilate the woman's pupil. No follow-up advice was provided.

The woman remained concerned about her eye and returned to the clinic to seek a second opinion six days later.

As there was no optometrist at the clinic that day, she was sent to another clinic, where she was seen immediately.

The second optometrist dilated the woman's pupil and diagnosed a retinal detachment. The woman was referred urgently to a public hospital and underwent surgery two days later.

Ms Duggal considered that the optometrist should have recognised that a dilated pupil examination of the woman's eye was indicated.

She said he should have provided appropriate follow-up advice to the woman in the event that further deterioration was experienced.

By not doing so, the optometrist failed to provide services to the woman with reasonable care and skill.

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