A role for optometrists in emergency departments?

April 30, 2007

Optometrists display a good ability to correctly identify and manage patients in busy accident and emergency (A&E) departments, according to a report published in the April issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Optometrists display a good ability to correctly identify and manage patients in busy accident and emergency (A&E) departments, according to a report published in the April issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Scott Hau and colleagues from Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK randomly selected patients attending Moorfields' A&E department to be examined by one of two senior optometrists and a consultant ophthalmologist. Both the optometrist and consultant were asked to make a diagnosis and create a management plan for the patient, independent of each other. The two were then compared and weighted kappa statistics were used to assess the level of agreement between the two groups.

A total of 150 subjects were assessed and the agreement in primary diagnosis and management between the two groups were 89.3% and 79.3%, respectively. A high level of agreement in management outcomes was found and no sight-threatening conditions were misdiagnosed by the optometrist.

The authors of this report believe that optometrists could potentially work safely in the A&E departments of busy eye hospitals.