Alberta Government Formally Approves Optometry Scope Expansion

Friday, June 26, 2015

Alberta Government Formally Approves Optometry Scope Expansion

On Wednesday, June 24, 2015, the Alberta Government issued formal approval to the revised Optometrists Profession Regulation.  All optometrists who successfully completed the Advanced Scope of Practice Certification Course are now authorized to provide all of the new areas of practice including:

  1. Prescribe, dispense or sell an oral or topical Schedule 1 or 2 drug incidental the practice of optometry.
  2. Manage and treat glaucoma in an independent manner.
  3. Order and analyze laboratory tests
  4. Order and apply non-ionizing radiation in the form of ultrasound.

The Alberta College of Optometrists (ACO) has adopted and approved new Standards of Practice and Clinical Practice Guidelines for these new areas of practice.  All members must go to the ACO website, and review these documents.  They are located under the Resources tab in the Standards of Practice link.

Now that the Optometrists Profession Regulation has been approved, the ACO will continue discussions with Alberta NetCare and Alberta Health Services to authorize optometric access to Alberta NetCare and the AHS lab testing portal.  Until NetCare access is authorized and the lab testing portal is activated, we require that:

  1. Optometrists communicate with other health care practitioners (and the patient) before ordering a lab test to ensure you are not ordering a duplicate lab test from one that was just recently ordered and analyzed.
  2. If you dispense a Schedule 1 or 2 drug in your office (such as Latisse that is not available in pharmacies), you must have this dispensing event uploaded to Netcare/PIN by another practitioner who does have access.   When optometrists are granted authorization to access Netcare, they will be responsible to upload these internal dispensing events themselves.  All other written prescriptions that are filled by pharmacists are automatically uploaded to Netcare/PIN by the pharmacist.

The new regulations do not allow optometrists to operate pharmaceutical dispensaries in their offices.  In addition, as the vast majority of health care services are delivered in a team-based, collaborative model, optometrists must communicate with other health care practitioners to ensure appropriate and optimal patient care.  This includes areas such as:  diagnostic data, pharmaceutical prescriptions, treatment services, lab test results, ocular signs of systemic disease, etc.

Optometrists must always practice within their legislated scope as well as their individual level of competence and level of confidence.  As always, please contact the college office if you have any questions or require any further clarification on any area of practice.

Alberta College of Optometrists
Telephone: 1-800-668-2694 or 780-466-5999
Fax: 780-466-5969

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