Virginia Board of Optometry E-Newsletter
MINI-NEWSLETTER – OCTOBER 2003
This is the fifth edition of the Virginia Board of Optometry’s “mini-”newsletter. The one-page format is designed to get the most important news from the Board to you as quickly as possible. The Board asked that the following topics be included: the new renewal deadline and form, continuing education reminder, the meaning of website addresses, and the Board's policy with regard to the new confidential consent agreement method of resolving disciplinary cases.
New renewal Deadline and Form. The expiration date for current licenses and TPA certificates is December 31, 2003, not October 31. In January, when the new regulations went into effect, all current licensure and TPA certifications were automatically extended to December 31, 2003 and all verifications began reflecting the new expiration date.
Continuing Education. The change in the renewal period also affects when continuing education (CE) is to be obtained. All hours for this year's renewal must have been obtained subsequent to the 2002 renewal and before the 2003 deadline – that is, between November 1, 2002 and December 31, 2003 For next year's renewal and thereafter, only those hours obtained from January 1 to December 31 of the same year will be applicable.
Please note that sixteen (16) hours are now required annually. At least fourteen (14) hours must pertain directly to patient care. Two (2) hours may include record-keeping or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). For TPA certified optometrists, at least two (2) hours must be directly related to TPA prescribing and administration.
Documents certifying CE must be maintained by the licensee for not less than three (3) years from the certifying renewal date. Compliance will be monitored through auditing conducted by the Department of Health Professions' Enforcement Division. Those licensees selected for auditing will receive renewal notices with instructions as to where to send proof of CE. The proof is due within fourteen days (14) days of renewal. Do NOT send in proof of CE to the Board office. New graduates are exempt from CE requirements for the first renewal following initial licensure. Only courses approved by a Board-recognized sponsor/approving body in advance will be accepted. For courses with a post-test requirement, credit will only be recognized if a passing grade was received and indicated on the certificate. CE certifying documentation must clearly indicate the name of the provider and affiliation with an approved sponsor /approving body. Correspondence courses will be credited according to the date on which the post-test was graded as indicated on the CE certificate.
Website Addresses. At its July meeting, the Board was asked whether an
optometrist's Internet address (e-mail or webpage) constituted a fictitious name
or whether it was considered merely an address. The Board concluded that it was
an address, just like a postal address. However, the Board also held that the
website, itself, must contain the optometrist's own name or registered
Confidential Consent Agreement. Effective July 1, 2003, several wide ranging amendments were made to the Code of Virginia regarding the discipline of licensees of the health regulatory boards within the Department of Health Professions. Those amendments were effected through House Bill 1441. To view the language, enter "hb1441" on the "Bills and Resolutions" page of the General Assembly's website: Legislative Information System: http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm and select 03/27/03 Governor: Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0762).
Of greatest relevance to optometrists is §54.1-2400(14) which allows the Board to enter into a "confidential consent agreement" (CCA). This private document may be offered or accepted by a board in lieu of disciplinary action under certain conditions. The CCA may only be used to resolve matters involving minor misconduct, with little or no injury to a patient or the public, and with little likelihood of repetition by the practitioner in question. It may not be used if the practitioner has demonstrated gross negligence or intentional misconduct or conducted his practice in such a manner as to be a danger to the health and welfare of his patients or the public. Generally, no more than two CCAs are available within a 10-year period for any practitioner to resolve matters involving standard of care violations. A CCA is not a notice or order, and may not be disclosed by the board or the respondent practitioner. If a CCA is breached or is relevant to a future disciplinary matter, the board may consider the previously entered CCA. A CCA shall include findings of fact and may include an admission or finding of a violation.
Each Board is developing guidance on potential matters may be resolved with a CCA. At the July meeting, the Board determined that CCAs may be considered for first-time continuing education violations, advertising/professional designation issues, prescription pad problems, records release, and mercantile practice issues. Nothing in this guidance requires the Board to adopt CCAs; however, the Board deems it reasonable to consider them under certain circumstances.
The calendar for 2004 will be scheduled at the next meeting: October 24, 2003.
2003 Virginia Board of Optometry