Hello WAO members. I wish you were hearing from me with better news, but unfortunately, I have some concerning information to share with you. The WAO is aware that seminars are being offered in Wisconsin to train optometrists on advanced laser surgery procedures, which are clearly outside their scope of practice. We also have reason to believe that a handful optometrists are already performing YAG capsulotomies in Wisconsin.
Make no mistake, the threat to patients and the practice of Ophthalmology in Wisconsin is very real!
While a growing number of states have expanded their optometric scope of practice laws to specifically allow optometrists to perform certain office-based laser procedures – with Virginia and Colorado being the latest—current Wisconsin law prohibits these lasers surgeries from being performed by ODs.
Unfortunately, that has not prevented brazen efforts to train Wisconsin optometrists on these procedures, with the goal of fully opening the door for ODs to provide laser surgeries across the state.
The good news is the WAO is fully committed to protecting patient safety and will take appropriate legal action to prevent unlawful surgical procedures that put patients at risk.
The other concern is that Wisconsin optometrists will unite to pursue an advocacy campaign to allow ODs to perform laser surgeries. WAO is confident it is a matter of when and not if we will face an optometrist scope of practice battle in Wisconsin.
Thankfully, we have an opportunity to push back – and to secure patient safety and preserve the Ophthalmology scope of practice. But we can only do it with your help, as WAO member engagement will be critical to our success. With that in mind, I am asking you to act TODAY to help us meet the growing challenges we face. Here is how you can help:
- If you aren’t already a member, please join the WAO and stay informed.
- Meet and get to know your state legislators (through the WAO Capitol Connection Program). Please contact the WAO office at email@example.com if you would like to meet with your state lawmakers or host a legislative tour at your facility.
- Join your physician colleagues at the annual Wisconsin Doctor Day (June 15, 2023) at the State Capitol to advocate for Ophthalmology and the House of Medicine.
While engaging in WAO grassroots advocacy is easy and doesn’t require much time, I do understand firsthand the challenges of fitting “another task” into your busy schedule. However, I am making this personal request because it is critically important. As John F. Kennedy once said, “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”
In closing, I would again urge you to get involved and stay involved to help enhance the practice of Ophthalmology and protect patient safety in Wisconsin.
Please contact the WAO at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or for more information on this important issue.