TMA Comments: Sunset Review of the Texas Optometry Board

     

    Burt Solomons
    Chair, Sunset Review Commission
    1501 Congress
    Robert E. Johnson Building, 6 th floor
    Austin, Texas 78701

    Re: Sunset Review of the Texas Optometry Board.

    Dear Chairman Solomons,

    Texas Medical Association is a medical professional association of more than 39,500 physicians, residents, and medical students whose stated goal is the improvement of the health of all Texans. The association appreciates the opportunity to offer the following comments to the Sunset Review Commission as it considers the current authority and past actions of the Texas Optometry Board.

    The staff report of the Sunset Review Commission reveals the Optometry Board has been a dismal failure in the area of enforcement: no revocations of license, two written reprimands, five administrative penalties (i.e., money only), and one suspension with probation. In effect, only one optometrist actually had a restriction on a license. The Optometry Board is not meeting its mandate to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The board needs to focus, or refocus, its efforts to adequately enforce its own statute.

    While the Optometry Board is neglecting its duty to enforce its act, it is not overlooking the expansion of the authority to practice by its licensees. For example, the board recently asked for an Attorney General's opinion on whether another board was correctly interpreting its own act! In Opinion Request No. 0188-GA, the Optometry Board asked whether the Board of Nurse Examiners may permit registered nurses to administer a dangerous drug on the order of a therapeutic optometrist. It should be noted that the Board of Nurse Examiners had previously told the Optometry Board that a registered nurse had no such authority in the Nurse Practice Act.

    Clearly, the Optometry Board is attempting to extend and enlarge its powers to include legislative authority. Only the Texas Legislature can expand or limit the scope and authority of a board and its licensees. The board should be required to enforce the act currently in place, or one that is narrowed, so that the resources of the board and the state are efficiently utilized and the mission of the board is transparent.

    Thank you for the opportunity to provide these comments.

    Sincerely,

    Bohn Allen, MD
    President
    Texas Medical Association


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