Geoff Pollard, CEO of Glaucoma Australia has welcomed the reinstatement of collaborative care arrangements between ophthalmologists and optometrists for patients with glaucoma following an agreement reached to revise the Guidelines for use of scheduled medicines, principally on glaucoma management.
The agreement between the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), Australian Society of Ophthalmologists (ASO), the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) was reached on Monday 24 November when ASO and RANZCO met with the OBA at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.
All parties have agreed that “modifying the guidelines is a constructive solution that protects patient safety and supports access to health services, without compromising standards of care”.
According to briefing notes issued by the OBA, the updated guidelines will:
• reflect the principles set out in the agreed statement.
• clarify the timelines for information exchange between treating practitioners (optometrists and opthalmologists).
• confirm that optometrists can assess patients, make an initial diagnosis and start treatment when that is in the patient’s best interests.
• confirm that optometrists must provide a referral to an opthalmologist about glaucoma treatment, as required by the patient’s condition and within four months.
Dr. David Andrews, CEO of RANZCO said revised guidelines would make sure there are clear referral pathways to support patient safety and well-being. “While there is not a huge amount of change, the critical amendment is that following initial diagnosis of glaucoma, optometrists will be required to refer a patient on to an ophthalmologist within four months for confirmation of the diagnosis and to establish a management plan,” he said, adding that in specific instances, for instance where a patient who experiences side effects from the initiating treatment, referral would be immediate.
“Optometrists can no longer independently manage glaucoma,” said Dr. Andrews. “The revised guidelines are better from our perspective because they are much clearer – ophthalmologists will be the leaders in the management plan, but the patient pathway will be collaborative and will vary from patient to patient in terms of how often they see the ophthalmologist and optometrist.”
According to a released on the OBA website on 25 November, “collaboration and communication between treating optometrists and ophthalmologists after each patient consultation is in the best interest of patient safety and optimal eye health care and is fundamental to the delivery of safe, high-quality health care services.
“A robust collaborative care arrangement that strengthens communication, referral pathways and ongoing management for patients is in the best interests of optometrists, ophthalmologists, patients and the public.
Geoff Pollard said “Glaucoma Australia supports an integrate eye care system; with optometrists, opthalmologists and other eye health providers working collaboratively as this is the best way to focus on the needs of the individual patient and to organise for initial and ongoing patient care, for the betterment of those patients.”
The ASO, RANZCO, the Optometry Board of Australia and AHPRA agree modifying the guidelines is a constructive solution that protects patient safety and supports access to health services, without compromising standards of care…
In a statement released by Optometry Australia, CEO Genevieve Quilty, stressed that details of the revised Guidelines for use of scheduled medicines, principally on glaucoma management were not yet available. She said until they were superseded, the current guidelines, as published on the OBA website, remain in place.
“Optometry Australia will work closely with the Optometry Board of Australia to ensure there is clear information to members of our profession following this settlement announced today. We will be working to clarify management and clinical responsibility pathways, and to ensure patient care is not interrupted as a result of misinformation provided by others following the release of the joint statement,” said Ms. Quilty.
A final decision over glaucoma management guidelines was not anticipated before a judicial review in the Supreme Court of Queensland had taken place from 1- 12 December.