You are a Licensed Optician and Contact Lens Fitter and you’ve been passionately fitting contact lenses and helping people access vision care for 30 years! A patient enters your practice and asks if they can get a contact lens refill, and they present you with a picture of their prescription on their phone. You search your records for their file, but cannot find any information.
A conversation with the patient reveals that they have never received care from you before and that they buy online all the time and have never experienced any problems. They came into your store as they require more contact lenses before they go away on a camping trip, and they do not have enough time to order online.
What should you do?
First you should review the prescription presented on the patients phone and determine if it is acceptable to use. There are no College imposed restrictions on utilizing a prescription from a patient’s phone, the prescription can be written or electronic but must be issued by a prescriber. You as a regulated health professional must use your professional judgement to determine if this is acceptable to you. The Standards of Practice require that the prescription details must be recorded in the patient record, and you would need to note that you viewed the prescription on the patients phone, or request a copy be emailed or printed out for the patient file.
Once you have determined if the prescription is acceptable to use for a contact lens fitting, explain to the patient that they will need to have a complete contact lens fitting, and inform them of any fees associated with this service. It would also be a good idea to address their time restraints at this point if you have any idea that you may not be able to supply lenses by the date required.
The patient will likely question why they need a complete fitting as when they order online, they do not have to do this. As a Licensed Optician and Contact Lens Fitter, let the patient know that you adhere to standards, regulation and competency requirements set out by the College to ensure that the public receives safe, quality care. Explain to them that you want to ensure the lenses they receive are right for their eyes, and although they haven’t experienced problems or discomfort in the past, it’s important for you to check that what they’re wearing is truly right for them.
The Standards of Practice dictate required measurements and patient history information that must be recorded in the patient record. As you go through each step, take the time to explain to the patient what you are doing, using language that they will understand. Ask if they have questions during the process and also at the end. If you inform the patient about why you are measuring their cornea, what the slit lamp is used for, the differences between various lens materials and associated wear times, they will have a greater appreciation for you as a professional. This is an opportunity to educate about the advantages of purchasing from a Licensed Optician and Contact Lens Fitter and will show that there is a difference in the quality of care received from a regulated health professional vs. buying online or from someone who it not licensed.