Should a dispensing optician give dispensing information, such as progressive design, fitting heights, etc, to another practice? This was an interesting query we recently received.
The background was that the patient had attended the initial practice once some two years previously. Having badly broken the spectacles, she went to a second practice asking them to ‘copy’ them. The original dispense had been a re-glaze so the frame was unknown, but the original opticians had tested the patient’s eyes and duly supplied progressive lenses, which the patient had worn until the accident.
The second practice phoned our member to request more information (the patient had the prescription). They wanted the lens manufacturer and design and the half PDs and fitting heights; they said the lenses were too badly broken to check this information.
Our member was concerned that by giving them the information, she might then be responsible if the patient didn’t like the replacement spectacles. She didn’t know if the person she spoke to was a qualified optician or not but she had her doubts.
Firstly, there is no legal requirement to give the patient or another optician any information other than the prescription. This is a similar situation to when a patient asks for their PD; you may wish to be helpful and comply but there is no legal requirement to do so.
The patient can demand a copy of their records, which would contain this information, but they have to pay an administrative charge and wait while the copy is produced, which it should be within a reasonable time frame.
This member had concerns that the information she was being asked to give out would not be used in a correct or accurate manner; she felt that the new practice seemed to lack the skills to duplicate a broken pair of spectacles and she was quite within her rights to politely decline.
In another circumstance, a patient of long-standing has an accident far from home, for example. A local optician might well be able to make an emergency pair of spectacles to enable the patient to get home at least, but would be grateful for any information the original optician might have. You would, of course, be happy to oblige and pass on anything that could be of use as a service to your patient.
In this case, where the second optician lacked the skill or knowledge to make a replacement pair of spectacles, I think our member would be well advised to refuse to give the dispensing information without more explanation.