Reps. Michael Burgess and Lisa Blunt Rochester introduced new legislation to prohibit any seller of prescription contact lenses from using robocalls to verify a consumer's prescription.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — The Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety (HCAPS) commends Representatives Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) for the introduction of the Contact Lens Prescription Modernization Act. If passed, this legislation will modernize the contact lens prescription verification process and make it safer for millions of contact lens wearers by prohibiting telephone calls with an artificial or prerecorded voice, also known as robocalls, from being used as a method for verifying patients’ prescriptions.
“I would like to thank Representatives Burgess and Blunt Rochester for reintroducing this important legislation. This is a major step to protect contact lens patients from potentially harmful practices currently utilized in the contact lens marketplace,” said David Cockrell O.D., Chairman of the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety.
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.
Robocalls have proven to be ineffective in accurately verifying contact lens prescriptions. The information relayed in these robocalls is often received by a number not belonging to a doctor of optometry or an ophthalmologist or does not align with a patient’s medical record—making it difficult, or even impossible, to correctly identify the patient and proper prescription within the current eight-hour passive verification window.
“Today, Americans know the benefits and expect the convenience of modern technology,” said Congressman Burgess. “Patients deserve the choice to safely purchase contact lenses without the risk of receiving the incorrect prescription. Unfortunately, online contact lens sellers are still allowed to verify prescriptions using an automated voice message or robocall. This can result in incorrect prescriptions and sometimes permanent eye damage or blindness. The Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act prohibits robocalls for contact lens prescription verifications and extends HIPAA protections to correspondence between a patient and an online seller. This bill will maintain consumers’ freedom while ensuring that physicians can safely verify their patients’ prescriptions.”
“I am proud to join with my colleagues in introducing the Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act. Since coming to Congress, one of my top priorities in Congress has been ensuring that consumers are protected from malicious and intentionally deceptive business practices,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester.
The Contact Lens Prescription Verification Modernization Act will enhance patient safety by prohibiting prescription verification via robocall and instead, will establish a paper trail that requires online sellers use direct communication. This will confirm prescriptions are accurate – ensuring patients receive their prescribed lenses rather than a substitution not approved by their eye care provider that could put their eye health and vision at risk.
Passing this bill is critical in increasing the safety of the more than 45 million Americans that rely on contact lenses, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Class II and Class III regulated medical devices, for safe and effective vision correction. Improper lens usage, which can result from the substitution of lenses not 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 Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety is committed to closing loopholes within the existing verification process and stopping the substitution of lenses to reduce the risk of preventable vision loss.
For more information on this legislation visit congress.gov. Stay up to date on all regulatory and policy news impacting patient safety by joining the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety.