A growing number of medical professionals have joined forces in a wave of disapproval of optometrists in Florida’s “Eyeball Wars,” which is now making way through Tallahassee.
HB 1037, which seeks to allow optometrists to perform surgery and prescribe opiates, among other things, now sits on the agenda of the House Health & Human Services Committee.
This week, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at University of Miami School of Medicine became the latest medical group to publicly oppose the bill, adding its name to a list that now stands at two dozen.
Each of these highly regarded medical professionals — which include the American Medical Association, the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) — strongly argue that the passage of HB 1037 would pose a serious threat to the health and safety of millions of Floridians.
The bill seeks to expand optometry further into the practice of medicine and laser surgery, a move fiercely opposed by ophthalmologists, who raise concern over the comparative lack of instruction for optometrists. HB 1037 would expand the scope of optometry compared to ophthalmologists — who have the required training and education — to include the practice of medicine and surgery, as defined by both the ACS and Florida Statute.
In the letter released Tuesday, Bascom Palmer Ophthalmology Chair Dr. Eduardo Alfonso, joined by Vice Chair Dr. Steven Gedde and Medical Director Dr. Stephen Schwartz, warn:
“There are no shortcuts to learning to safely perform eye surgery. Ophthalmologists complete four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical education, one year of internship, and then three years of ophthalmology residency training, such as that provided at Bascom Palmer.”
“In summary, we believe that HB 1037 and [Senate companion] SB 1168 represent a serious threat to patient safety, public welfare, and quality of care … The citizens of Florida deserve far better than the superficial and inadequate ‘training’ that is provided for in these bills.”
Ophthalmologists — licensed to practice medicine and surgery — contend that HB 1037 (as Dr. David Hoyt, executive director of the American College of Surgeons, wrote recently) works against the “interest of patient safety and maintaining the highest standards of surgical care.”
Professional medical groups so far opposed to HB 1037 include:
Florida Society of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Florida Medical Association
American Medical Association
American College of Surgeons
Florida Chapter of the American College of Surgeons
Florida Society of Anesthesiologists
Florida Osteopathic Medical Association
Florida Chapter of the American College of Physicians
Florida Society of Plastic Surgeons
Florida Radiological Society
Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgeons
Florida Society of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons
Florida Orthopaedic Society
Florida Society of Nephrology
Florida College of Emergency Physicians
Florida Orthopedic Society
Florida Society of Rheumatology
Florida Society of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians
Florida Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics
Florida Academy of Family Physicians
Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (FSIPP)
Florida Psychiatric Society
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Florida Society of Pathologists