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Another Beef with Commercial Optometry

on June 10th, 2005 | Filed under Optoblog

When one is an “independent doctor of optometry,” then where do the charts go when the sell out commercial optometrist stops working for beside that particular chain? Well, the charts are theirs since (s)he is independent, so they go with the doctor. That’s fine and dandy as long as the optometrist works for long stretches of time in the same location.

I had a patient come into my office because the commercial doctor said she has a “spot” in (or on?) her eye and should be checked. He asked her if she had insurance, and she said no. He told her it would cost a lot to have the spot checked. She then said that she is enrolled with Indian Health Service, so he suggested she go there. Since I’m an IHS eye doctor, I saw her. I did a complete, yet unremarkable, exam. Since I didn’t find anything, I decided it would be best to get the previous doctor’s notes.

This is where I ran into trouble. The patient gladly signed the release and was thankful that I didn’t find anything wrong; however, when I tried to locate the doctor to fax him the records request, he had left Chain A and didn’t leave a forwarding address or phone number. The receptionist thought that maybe he went to Chain B. I called Chain B, and they stated that it would be best to not fax them anything for this doctor because he only very occasionally does fill-in work. I tried to look up his home phone, but he is unlisted. The state board does not list address information. Apparently he doesn’t belong to the AOA nor the state association because he wasn’t listed in their directories. I finally found what appears to be a home address in a search at www.arbo.org, so I sent my records request to the listed address (no phone number available). I don’t even know if the address is current because he may not live in that city anymore (Chain A and B are in different towns).

So, how can we fix this? First, let the consumer/patient beware. If they go to a commercial eye doc, they should realize that it could become a very big pain to try and track down their records later. Maybe they should ask for a copy immediately after each exam and file it at home. Second, I would hope the docs would leave a forwarding address and phone number with the commercial shop. That should be automatic, but the chain I contacted apparently doesn’t bother. Third, maybe the state boards should allow anyone to search for address information. If my letter comes back, maybe I’ll send the records request to the board and let them forward it to the doc’s last known address.

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One Response to “Another Beef with Commercial Optometry”

  1. […] after year. If a patient moves away, (s)he knows where the records can be found. (See my previous post on this issue.) I would encourage all patients to visit […]