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Wrong spectacles issued

U2.8.3 Wrong spectacles issued… (2015)

The satisfying part of our job is that no two cases are the same; we have to use our professional judgement on so many occasions to best serve our patients. A phone call came into the membership department from a very distressed member and it was passed to me to try to help. The circumstances were such that many of us would think: “No! How could that happen?”

A busy practice, Mum brought in her child’s specs for repair, a missing screw; they remained uncollected for some time. Meanwhile another Mum brought their child’s specs in for repair and, you guessed it, identical frames. When the second Mum and child called in to collect the child’s specs, our member duly fitted them and sent them off home. It was a few weeks later when the original Mum came back to collect her child’s specs that the error was discovered.

It does make you go cold doesn’t it? There are very few of us who haven’t had a similar experience or a very close call like it. What to do?

In fairness to the member, she did everything right from that point. She informed her manager and together they pieced together what had happened. Both Mums were contacted and asked to bring their child’s specs into the practice. They were duly checked and double-checked; a new pair of specs was made for each child at no charge, and the records clearly showed what the error was and what had been done to correct it. Both families received fulsome apologies from head office down to the responsible dispensing optician.

It shouldn’t have been possible should it? Systems must be in place to protect all patients but especially vulnerable ones; it’s what our job is all about. Would our member end up before the Fitness to Practise panel of the General Optical Council (GOC)? It depends; someone has to complain to the GOC and then the facts are checked before a full investigation rolls into motion.

It is my view that making such an error is all too easy in a modern, frantic practice but it is how it was handled that really separates the genuine mistake from the ‘so what, no harm done’ attitude.

The records must show that the standard operating procedures for the practice are such that an error like this could not happen again. All staff, professional and support, were aware of the mistake and fully retrained to make such a mistake all but impossible to reoccur. Then any audit, be it GOC or NHS, would be satisfied that while regrettable, the mistake was rectified and salient lessons learnt by all involved.

#dispensing #children #repairs