RALEIGH, N.C., March 9, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- House Bill 36 in the North Carolina General Assembly is meeting fierce opposition from medical doctors across the state. A recent article in the Raleigh News & Observer highlights that optometrists—non-medical doctors—are seeking to perform eye surgery with lasers and scalpels. Optometrists are trained in basic vision care services. But unlike ophthalmologists who are medical doctors and surgeons, optometrists do not go to medical school and do not undergo surgical residency training where medical doctors train to become surgeons.
"House Bill 36 needlessly lowers the standards of patient safety and quality eye care in North Carolina," said Sara Stoneburner, M.D., a practicing ophthalmologist in Greensboro, and President of the North Carolina Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons. "There are no simple surgeries or procedures involving the eye. Every eye is unique and eye surgery requires a level of expertise that can only be gained through rigorous medical education, surgical training and clinical experience. Ophthalmologists are the physicians who are qualified to perform eye surgery and prepared to manage surgical complications that can and do occur," said Stoneburner.
"Whether you use a blade or laser, surgery is surgery," stated Stoneburner. "What patients and lawmakers alike must realize is that mastering the use of a laser requires the same, if not more, practice and experience as using a surgical scalpel. Lasers are surgical instruments that cut as deeply and as sharply as any blade. Optometrists simply do not undergo the training required to perform surgery safely. When it comes to any surgery, especially on or near the eyes, there's no such thing as 'simple" surgery," Stoneburner remarked.
HB 36 is currently under consideration by the North Carolina House Health Committee. Radio advertisements (listen here) began airing on March 8th across the state aimed on educating the public on the dangers to patient safety associated with the legislation.
Members of the media seeking comment from North Carolina physicians are asked to contact Dee Stewart at 919-828-6455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SOURCE North Carolina Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons