April 01, 2013
2 min read

Tennessee optometry association supports bill to use injectable anesthetic

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While optometrists in Tennessee have been licensed to perform injections for nearly 20 years, the passage of recently introduced legislation would be necessary for them to be able to use injectable anesthetics when performing primary eye care procedures of the eyelid, according to the association.

SB220/HB555 proposes a change in the law that “only introduces the use of another means of anesthesia to existing injection techniques in an effort to increase patient comfort,” according to a statement issued by the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians (TAOP). “This amendment does not allow optometric physicians to perform any new procedures.”

Optometrists have been removing lumps and bumps and draining cysts with the use of topical anesthetics such as drops, gels and creams since 1993, according to TAOP President David K. Talley, OD, FAAO.

“Family practitioners, nurses and physician assistants readily perform similar procedures with injectable anesthetics,” he said. “We believe this bill is in the best interest of our patients and the citizens of Tennessee.”

As it stands, because optometric physicians are unable to perform treatments of the eyelid that require the use of anesthesia with injectable anesthetics, they are unable to provide the greatest efficiency and comfort for their patients, the TAOP statement said.

However, opponents to the bill are calling into question optometrists’ training, suggesting that the change in the legislation “would encourage a level of practice beyond the scope of preparedness and education of an optometric physician,” according to a press release from the Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology.

In counterargument, the TAOP claims that “optometric physicians are trained in the indications and techniques of performing injections as well as the potential contraindications and complications of each in several laboratory and clinical settings throughout their second, third and fourth years of professional study,” according to the statement.

The bill was scheduled to be on notice in the Tennessee House Health Subcommittee on March 26 and in the Senate Health Committee on March 27. – by Daniel R. Morgan and Nancy Hemphill, ELS

A note from the editor:

The proposed amendment is designed to enhance patient comfort during procedures ODs in the state already perform, the organization says.

For more information:
David K. Talley, OD, FAAO, is president of the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians, chair of the Tennessee Board of Optometry and in private practice at West Tennessee Eye. He can be reached at (901) 357-0371; talley@wteye.com.