November 01, 1995
1 min read
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After PRK approval, what we might have here is a credentialing gap.

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mugshot--- Keith Croes.

The public’s perception of photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)--and the eye care professionals who provide it--will have a huge impact on the volume of surgery that is ultimately performed. Equally as important--and perhaps related to this--is the attitude of optometrists who provide primary eye care.

PRK presents optometrists and ophthalmologists with a mutual dilemma.

Here is the optometrist’s concern:

How do I know that the surgeon to whom I refer patients and who performs the procedure is qualified to do so?

Here is the ophthalmologist’s concern:

How do I know that the optometrist who refers patients to me and follows them afterward is qualified to do so?

What we might have here is a credentialing gap. Right now, whatever educational certification exists, either for optometrists or ophthalmologists, seems to be in the hands of the laser center companies, the networks and the large groups who are shouldering into the race for the American myope. Thought should be given as to whether this is adequate.

The major optometric and ophthalmologic groups should explore the creation of minimal, mutually acceptable educational requirements for the delivery of PRK. The alternative delegates the responsibility to the corporations whose fortunes are tied to that delivery.

For medical, ethical and medicolegal reasons, optometrists and ophthalmologists have an overriding need to trust one another in the newborn industry of PRK. Perhaps no other issue has offered a greater opportunity for the two professions to seek common ground.

In the final analysis, credentialing is a kind of promise to the patient. Should either profession decline to participate in the promise, the public will inevitably begin to wonder how much that profession really cares about patients.

And the public would be justified.

To register your opinions on credentialing, visit the Refractive Surgery area in our Specialty Forums.