Policyholder Services

Can my optometrist take call for me?

Optometrists should perform only those services that are within the scope of their licensure, training, and expertise. Since their special training and skill does allow optometrists to handle a number of questions or situations that might arise, ophthalmology practices that employ or contract with optometrists are increasingly asking their optometrists to help manage after-hour calls.

Call activities for the employing ophthalmic practice, including call coverage performed as part of a call group, can be insured under the proper conditions. Call activities must be limited to situations that are within the scope of the optometrist’s expertise and legal scope of practice. Just as optometrists can not manage all situations or conditions during office hours, they may not take call for an ophthalmologist without appropriate backup and written protocols. An ophthalmologist must always be available within a reasonable response time to take a patient referral in the event a situation that exceeds the optometrist’s scope of expertise or legal scope of practice arises; the ophthalmologist should always be available by telephone for consultation and be available within a reasonable response time to personally examine a patient if needed.

OMIC has developed an educational handout that explains the potential risks of optometric call and provides risk management guidance to minimize these risks. A generic sample call protocol is also included in the handout. Please contact our risk management department for more information.

Optometrists who take call for a hospital/emergency room require special underwriting review. To facilitate review, the optometrist must submit a copy of the hospital’s written call protocol with his/her application.

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