A Regulation under the Optometry Act (O. Reg. 119/94) clearly states that a member of the College must provide a patient with a written, signed, and dated prescription for subnormal vision devices, contact lenses or eye glasses. The Health Insurance Act makes the provision of a written refractive prescription one of the non-discretionary components of a periodic oculo-visual assessment.
What if it’s been 18 months since I examined the patient?
You will note that the regulation does not make the length of time from examination a variable in the issuance of a prescription. If it is your professional judgment that the prescription has a low probability of still being valid, you are advised to make this known to the patient at the time of their request. You should record your advice to the patient. However, you cannot make the final decision of whether to have the prescription updated for the patient. If they choose to go against your advice, it is their privilege to do so. Write the prescription and sign it. The date should reflect the day upon which the pertinent examination took place, not the date of release.
Can I charge for this service?
The original prescription is part of the examination fee. Any replacement copies can be charged to the patient at a reasonable fee.
Opticians call me all the time asking for a prescription. Can I give it to them without having the patient signing a release form?
Opticians, like optometrists, are regulated health professionals. Under O. Reg.119/94 Part IV, Section 11 (5) you may, for the purposes of providing health care, give a health professional any information from your record.
The provision of a prescription is one such transmission of information. You can give the information to the optician over the telephone, by fax, or any other medium that is convenient to you and the optician. The patient is not required to sign a release for this sharing of information.