Alliance for Patient Safety Applauds Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act Reintroduction

Bipartisan Legislation to Modernize the Contact Lens Prescription Verification and Increase Patient Safety Introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Rush (IL-1), Burgess (TX-26), Blunt Rochester (Delaware) and McKinley (WV-1)

(WASHINGTON) – The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (Alliance) released the following statement following the House reintroduction of the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act (H.R. 3353). The bipartisan legislation introduced by Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL-1), Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX-26), Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware at-large) and Representative David McKinley (R-WV-1) will modernize the contact lens prescription verification process and make it simpler and safer for millions of contact lens wearers.

Dr. David Cockrell, Chairman of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety, said, “The Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act offers a commonsense solution to close a critical loophole in the prescription verification process by ensuring patients receive the exact contact lenses they were prescribed by their doctor. The current antiquated system of verifying contact lens prescriptions too often relies on outdated robocalls, which burden doctor offices and put patient eye health at risk. The Alliance thanks Representatives Rush, Burgess, Blunt Rochester and McKinley for reintroducing this bill in the 117th Congress. We applaud their strong commitment to protecting patient eye health.

The reintroduction of the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act comes after the bill garnered 74 cosponsors in the 116th Congress. The reintroduction of the bill coincides with a virtual fly-in next week of hundreds of vision safety champions and optometrists from around the country advocating for commonsense safeguards for vision health.

Millions of Americans can purchase their contact lenses online thanks to the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act (FCLCA). However, as a patient health safeguard, the law requires online sellers to verify the validity of contact lens prescriptions with the patient’s doctor before fulfilling an order. While the FCLCA clearly allows the use of telephone, fax, or e-mail for verifying prescriptions, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has interpreted the law to also allow for robocall verification.

Confirming the accuracy of contact lens prescriptions, which includes several specifications, is far too complicated for an automated phone system or robocall. Information relayed in these robocalls is oftentimes garbled or does not align with a patient’s medical record—making it difficult, or even impossible, for a doctor to correctly identify the patient and proper prescription within the eight-hour passive verification window.

H.R. 3353 increases patient safety by prohibiting prescription verification made via robocall and establishing a paper trail by instead requiring that online sellers use direct communication – e-mail, live phone call, or fax – to confirm prescriptions and ensure patients are receiving their prescribed lenses rather than a substitution not approved by an eye care provider that could put their eye health and vision at risk. The bill also requires online sellers to develop HIPAA-compliant methods for patients to electronically transmit contact lens prescriptions.

More than 45 million Americans rely on contact lenses – U.S. Food and Drug Administration Class II and Class III regulated medical devices – for safe and effective vision correction. Contact lenses are more complex than they appear, having more than 10 different structural and chemical features that represent over 160 different brands to meet the needs of each individual patient. There are no generic contact lenses. Improper lens usage, which can result from the substitution of lenses not as prescribed by the patient’s doctor or using an outdated prescription, can lead to serious health complications, including infections and other sight-threatening conditions, such as microbial keratitis, corneal edema, ulcers, and neovascularization. The FDA includes information on contact lenses for consumers on their website.

The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety has made it a priority to close loopholes within the existing verification process and prevent the substitution of lenses to reduce the risk of preventable vision loss.
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