Okla. optometrists get OK for scalpel use

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 6, 2004

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Gov. Brad Henry of Oklahoma has signed into law a regulation allowing optometrists to do procedures requiring a scalpel, despite requests from organized medicine to not do so.

The regulation was actively opposed by the Oklahoma State Medical Assn., the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Oklahoma Osteopathic Assn.

AMA Trustee William A. Hazel Jr., MD, denounced the governor's recent action.

"The safety of Oklahoma's patients has been dealt a blow by Gov. Henry's decision to approve the Oklahoma Board of Examiners in Optometry regulation allowing nonphysicians to perform eye surgery with a scalpel," Dr. Hazel said. "Patient safety is a top priority of the American Medical Association -- and we condemn this action that puts the safety of Oklahoma's patients at risk."

Optometrists are already permitted to do specific laser surgeries in the state.

Bob Palmer, director of state governmental affairs for the American Academy of Ophthalmology said physicians also were concerned that the new regulation would set a precedent nationally. In particular, optometrists licensed in Oklahoma and working within the Veteran's Health Administration system could work anywhere within the VA system and retain the scope of practice permitted under their Oklahoma license.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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