AOP experts discuss safe practice at 100% Optical
“One of the issues that we find causes great concern amongst optometrists is the fear of litigation,” Efa Schmidt told attendees
01 May 2022
AOP clinical and professional director, Dr Peter Hampson, and head of clinical negligence, Efa Schmidt, discussed safe practice and developments in artificial intelligence technology in their presentation The good, the bad and the ugly at 100% Optical (London ExCel, 23-25 April).
Schmidt shared with the audience that her role involves overseeing clinical negligence claims at the AOP.
“One of the issues that we find causes great concern amongst optometrists is the fear of litigation,” she said.
Schmidt added that sometimes optometrists can be fearful that their practice will be judged by a higher standard than is applied.
She noted that optometrists are expected to act in a way that is reasonable, taking the same steps that the majority of other optometrists would take.
In order to take action against an optometrist, the claimant must make a case that there is a breach of duty and the patient suffered an injury.
The claimant must also prove that, on the balance of probabilities, the substandard care provided by the optometrist caused the injury.
Schmidt added that this is different to criminal proceedings where the standard is much higher.
The claimant has three years from the date of the injury or three years from the date of knowledge of the injury to bring a case.
If the person who has sustained the injury is deceased, then there is three years from the date of death for a case to be bought. For children, a case can be brought up to three years after the date of their 18th birthday.
Based on the 20 million sight tests performed in the UK each year, Hampson estimated that an individual optometrist might see 3600 patients over a year.
Taking into account prevalence data, Hampson calculated that 108 of those patients might have glaucoma.
He noted that over the past few years there has been an upward trend in the number of claims brought by patients.
While advancements in imaging within optometry have provided clinicians with more information to make decisions, retinal photographs and optical coherence tomography scans also provide a more extensive record to review when pathology is missed.
Hampson discussed the implications of the duty of candour for optometrists. He recommended that practitioners contact the AOP team if they think the duty of candour may be in action.
While the duty of candour requires an apology to be made, Hampson clarified that this does not necessarily mean that the optometrist admits fault.
Hampson discussed artificial intelligence (AI) technology, beginning with the Turing test for what an intelligent machine is.
He outlined forms of weak and strong AI, as well as describing the differences between AI, machine learning and deep learning.