The question that gave me the most problem this month was about giving a prescription. A member had asked about a patient for whom he had made up some music glasses but the patient was now moving to a different part of the country and he wanted to take the prescription with him to the new practice, wherever that might be. The member wanted to know if he could, as a dispensing optician, give a prescription. Well, I had to ponder this one…
Registered DOs may alter the working distance for patients for a particular task or job. This is a familiar situation; the patient comes in with a prescription stating the distance powers and addition needed. They say: “My glasses are fine most of the time but I can’t see very well when I play the organ in church. Can you help?” Of course you can. With a little bit of measurement and calculation, you make a pair of specs for reading music. The patient is delighted and job done. Except when that patient decides to move and says: “These music specs are wonderful; can you give me my prescription so I can tell any new optician what to do if I should lose them?” This is where ABDO came in.
The issuing of a prescription is the final part of an eye examination; it is the legal responsibility of the doctor or optometrist to give the patient a copy of the prescription found (or a statement saying no prescription found). If a DO gives a prescription, it could be interpreted as the testing of sight. So, what to do?
It must be assumed that the details of the music spectacles would be clearly recorded within the patient’s records. The details of the original prescription, together with the subsequent power calculated to focus the patient’s eyes in the required position, would be recorded together with the frame details, measurements, centration and tints or coatings and charges made. This information may be given to the patient (it is their right to have any details they wish from your records) but the form it takes must be carefully considered.
It could say something along the lines of: ‘Details of spectacles supplied for music on [date]’. ‘Calculated from the original prescription of [date] issued by [name of prescriber]’. Then end with: ‘Dispensed by [your name] and [GOC registration number]’. When worded like this there can be no doubt that there was no test of sight but simply a calculation from an existing prescription.