Stand Up for Patient Safety in Wyoming

This February, the Wyoming State Legislature will be considering legislation that would allow optometrists, who are not medical doctors or trained surgeons, to perform scalpel and laser surgery on your eyes. This legislation, Senate File 29, represents a radical departure from the standard of medical and surgical care in Wyoming and places patient safety and quality of surgical outcomes at risk.

Only five states in the entire nation have watered down their standards of patient safety to the extent that SF29 would do in Wyoming. What’s more, the Veterans Administration (VA) does not permit optometrists to perform surgeries in their facilities. They know what Wyoming legislators do not – there is no such thing as a SIMPLE laser or scalpel eye surgery!

What’s more, a study commissioned by the Vermont General Assembly and released earlier this year by the state’s Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) recommended AGAINST expanding the optometric scope of practice to include proposed “advanced procedures” (surgery). After consulting with stakeholders and conducting extensive and thorough research, the Vermont OPR determined that optometrists were not properly trained in, nor could safely perform, the proposed advanced procedures. Further, OPR found that there is little need for—and minimal cost savings associated with—expanding the optometric scope of practice to include advanced procedures. Read more about Vermont’s study here.

You can help defeat this unsafe plan again by contacting your State Representative and Senators. Use the form below to contact your legislator and ask them to VOTE NO on SF 29!

FAST FACTS

  • More than 40% of Wyoming households have at least one person who has had surgery in or around the eye.
  • 82% of Wyoming voters say that access to eye care is readily available to them and their family.
  • 78% of Wyoming voters oppose changing Wyoming law to allow optometrists to perform eye surgeries after hearing basic facts on the issue.
  • As Wyoming legislators consider a proposal to allow optometrists to perform some surgery procedures in and around the eyes of patients, 60% of Wyoming voters think training surgery experience of optometrists is the most important thing to consider.

*Data according to a survey of 500 likely Wyoming conducted in December of 2019.*

 

IMPLICATIONS OF SENATE FILE 29

  • Allow optometrists open ended authority to perform more than 100 different types of surgeries on and around the eye;
  • Remove the authority of the Wyoming Board of Medicine to solely determine the necessary requirements and oversight for those performing eye surgery in Wyoming;
  • Permit optometrists to take a needle and inject potent pharmaceutical agents into the tissues surrounding the eye;
  • Double the likelihood a patient would need additional treatment when certain procedures are performed by an optometrist as compared to an ophthalmologist – resulting in higher costs to patients and the healthcare system;
  • Go against the will of Wyoming people – with 78% of Wyoming voters opposing a change in law to allow optometrists to perform eye surgeries when educated on the issue

Optometrists are an important part of the eyecare team, but they are not surgeons or medical doctors who have a minimum of eight years of post-college medical and surgical training. And 89% of Wyoming residents say that access to the eye care they need is already readily available. So why put patients at risk?

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