The question this time is one that is often asked of ABDO, in one form or another, but nonetheless is an important one and well worth revisiting. May a parent collect their child’s spectacles when there has only been a small repair, or does the registered optician always have to fit them to the child in person?
The answer, as with so many things in life, is ‘It depends!’ The law is very straightforward: a child must be fitted with their spectacles by a registered optician (or doctor). It is one of the most fundamental parts of our work and for very good reasons; if a child’s spectacles are incorrect or ill-fitting they can, at best, not do the job they were intended for or, at worst, do damage to the child’s developing vision.
The query arises when it is not a new dispensing but simply a repair; do the same regulations apply? It is a question of degree. If it is a simple replacement screw, common sense would decree that a trained optical assistant could quite easily carry out such a task and hand them over to a parent without seeing the child.
The rider is that a record needs to be kept of the action (suppose it were the third time in a week the same screw had been replaced?). The optical assistant would also need to have sufficient training and knowledge to notice if the spectacles were not just missing a screw, but if they were bent and misshapen and so requiring a more extensive repair and then fitting to the child in person by the dispensing optician.
Similarly if a parent (or grandma, childminder or school teacher) brought into the practice a mangled wreck of a frame (lenses out, bent beyond straightening) the resultant repaired/replaced spectacles would require refitting to the child by a qualified person, just as a new dispense would have to be fitted. To anyone observing, it is a new pair of spectacles requiring the same care as any other new pair of spectacles.
It often requires tact and diplomacy to explain this to a harassed Mum, who may not understand the technical complexities of ophthalmic frame design or indeed care for the professional niceties of who may do what; all she wants is to collect the specs and go. The training of optical assistants to enable them to explain these points is essential to the smooth running and management of a practice.
If the records show what was done, by whom and with what supervision, it would be obvious to anyone conducting an audit that spectacles were not handed out willy-nilly by anyone and to anyone – but that care, attention and forethought had been used throughout.
#dispensing #children #repairs