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Lawyers representing ophthalmology and optometry will return to the Queensland Supreme Court on 4 August for a four-day civil trial.

The parties are debating the validity of guidelines that allow therapeutically endorsed optometrists to independently diagnose and manage glaucoma.

Optometry Australia is preparing its position on the possible outcomes of the trial and a representative will be attending.

The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists (ASO) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) jointly launched legal action against the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) in June 2013.

ASO and RANZCO challenged the validity of the OBA’s revised ‘Guidelines for use of scheduled medicines’ that came into effect in March 2013, and the operations of the Health Practitioner National Law Act 2009 (QLD) that underpin the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.

They dispute the OBA’s decision to increase optometrists’ scope of practice to independently diagnose and manage glaucoma, claiming it compromises patient safety.

The parties attended an initial hearing in the Queensland Supreme Court on 29 July 2013 and a second hearing on 30 August 2013.

It was announced on 19 December 2013 that the court found that ASO and RANZCO had standing to challenge the guidelines and the decision by the OBA that allowed independent glaucoma management by endorsed optometrists.

A court date of 4 August 2014 was set for a four-day hearing.

Although Optometry Australia is not directly involved in the case, it has focused on bringing awareness to state and federal members of parliament about the possible repercussions of the legal challenge.

National policy manager Skye Cappuccio said many high-level meetings had taken place over the past eight months to highlight the ramifications of the legal case.

‘At a national level, Optometry Australia has met with many government representatives, and at a state level, the organisation and individual members have met with jurisdictional government,’ Ms Cappuccio said.

 

Optometry Australia Glaucoma Guidelines.

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