New professional misconduct and conflict of interest regulations for optometrists came into effect earlier this year.
Professional misconduct and conflict of interest provisions contained in Regulation 859/93 (Professional Misconduct) under the Optometry Act and Regulation 550 (Optometry) under the Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act, respectively, were revoked and replaced on April 15, 2014 by new provisions in Regulation 119/94 under the Optometry Act (the “Regulation”).
Acts of professional misconduct for optometrists have been revised, added and removed in the Regulation. Optometrists are strongly encouraged to review Part I (Professional Misconduct) and Part II (Conflict of Interest) of the Regulation to ensure they are not engaging in any acts that may amount to a finding of professional misconduct under the Health Professionals Procedural Code, including engaging in the practice of the profession while in a conflict of interest.
Revisions made to the conflict of interest provisions now permit optometrists to practise in association with corporations, opticians or other persons where he or she engages in the practice of optometry as an independent contractor, and enters into a written agreement with the other person (i.e. corporation, optician, etc.) that includes the following statements:
- the optometrist shall control the professional services provided to a patient;
- the optometrist shall control who he or she may accept as a patient;
- the optometrist shall provide every patient or his or her authorized representative with a copy of his or her prescription;
- the optometrist shall set the fee charged or collected in respect of any professional service;
- the optometrist shall control the maintenance, custody and access to the records required to be kept in respect of the practice of the profession;
- the optometrist shall have access, along with his or her staff, to the premises where the member practises and to the books and records related to his or her practice, at any time of the day or night; and
- the optometrist shall ensure that any advertising relating to the professional services provided by the member meets the requirements set out in regulations made under the Optometry Act.
Not only are written agreements mandatory in some circumstances, but are also recommended as a best practice whenever an optometrist enters into a business relationship, in order to ensure that the terms of the relationship, including the custody and control of personal health information, are clear from the outset.
Miller Thomson’s Health Industry Group has significant experience working with health care professionals, including optometrists, to put these written agreements in place and structuring records management systems to ensure that conflict of interest and privacy obligations are met.