Optometrist who intimidated patient and missed ‘obvious’ retinal detachment sanctioned

The General Optical Council has erased a Lincolnshire optometrist from its register

GOC desk

A Lincolnshire optometrist who failed to detect a ‘barn door’ retinal detachment and spoke aggressively to a patient has been erased from the General Optical Council (GOC) register.

A GOC fitness to practise committee found that Paul Fontaine failed to provide an adequate standard of care to a patient who presented with a probable retinal detachment.

An expert optometrist who gave evidence to the committee said that the left eye imaging of the patient revealed a ‘barn door’ obvious retinal detachment that required an urgent hospital referral.

On a separate occasion, a patient who was examined by Mr Fontaine reported that he was impatient and abrupt, occasionally raising his voice at the patient during a sight test.

He did not believe that the patient could not read the bottom line of a chart with her current prescription lenses.

The fitness to practise decision stated: “Patient A said that she became afraid of him, believing that it was possible that he might become physically violent towards her in the confines of the examination room.”

The patient left the practice in tears and arranged a second consultation at another practice the next day.

Fitness to practise committee chair, Ian Crookall, highlighted that a lack of remediation and insight meant that Mr Fontaine presented a high risk of repetition of similar conduct to the detriment of patients.

“The committee determined that an order for erasure was the only appropriate and proportionate sanction that would sufficiently protect the public and demonstrate to the public that the regulator took seriously the concerns that arose in this case given the serious departure from professional standards,” Mr Crookall emphasised.

Mr Fontaine has until 20 November to appeal his erasure, during which time he is suspended from the register under an immediate suspension order.