South Australian optometrist Ashok Bhoola has had his registration to practice cancelled for 12 months, having been found guilty of secretly altering patients’ prescriptions on 410 occasions during 2015 and 2016.
The ABC reported that 359 pairs of glasses were manufactured using the altered scripts and of those, 313 pairs were found to be defective, and 96 were returned to the store.1
Mr Bhoola, was working at Specsavers West Lakes in Adelaide’s north, at the time the records were altered and has denied altering the prescriptions.
this was a very serious matter that put the welfare of patients at risk, and therefore we fully support the decision of the Tribunal
However according to findings from the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, he “must have been” responsible.
“We found that the respondent did this deliberately without clinical justification and contrary to the interests of the patients, and that his actions put the welfare of patients at risk,” the judgement reads.
The scheme was uncovered when Mr Bhoola’s business partner, a fellow optometrist, noticed errors in recording eyesight test results. Assuming she was making “silly mistakes”, she said she felt embarrassed in front of her colleagues and lost significant confidence in her own ability. However, driven by her concerns, she began to keep her own records, which once reviewed, confirmed that the errors were in fact due to records being altered.
An investigation revealed somebody had “systematically” altered the prescriptions using Mr Bhoola’s login details and, despite his denial of any wrong doing, that he was the only person at the store each time the changes were made.
Charles Hornor, Specsavers Director of Communications says Specsavers supports the Tribunal’s decision and confirmed that Mr Bhoola has not worked as an optometrist with the organisation since the issue was identified.
“Specsavers prides itself on its high professional standards and our patient’s health and wellbeing is always our number one priority,” Mr Hornor told mivision. “We take issues like this extremely seriously and do not tolerate any breach of professional standards.
“As soon as the issue with prescriptions was identified in January 2016, Specsavers suspended the optometrist, Ashok Bhoola, and launched an internal investigation into the matter, with the assistance of a forensic accountant.
“Following the internal investigation, in March 2016 AHPRA (the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency) was notified by us and Mr Bhoola resigned and left the business. Affected patients were contacted to ensure their glasses were fit for purpose. Any glasses that needed replacing, were replaced at no cost to the patient.
“Following an investigation by AHPRA, the case was subsequently heard by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal which, after careful consideration, ruled that Mr Bhoola did make the alleged changes to another optometrists’ prescriptions and did so deliberately. Mr Bhoola was issued with a reprimand for professional misconduct and his registration was cancelled for 12 months.
“Whilst we regret any optometrist losing their registration and principal source of income, this was a very serious matter that put the welfare of patients at risk, and therefore we fully support the decision of the Tribunal,” Mr Hornor concluded.