16 CFR Part 315; Agency Information Collection Activities: Review; Comment Request; Contact Lens Rule: FTC Project No. R511995
1800contacts has an inadequate Rx verification policy, in my opinion. They feel (and this falls within what is legal) that calling an eye doctor's office with a computer generated message saying that a patient has ordered a certain brand with a certain power is all the verification they need to ship the paitient's product to them. The problem with this is, sometimes the doctor does not get the message in time (if they do not reply within 8 business hours, the online company sees that as verification) or the doctor does not get the message at all until *after* they have *already shipped a potentially inaccurate* Rx to the patient. This does injustice to the patient and to us, their eye care professionals. To us, the patient is a patient. We are ethically obligated to "do no harm." To certain online companies, they are only a customer. This is a completely different connotation with a completely different set of ethical standards. The following are a few disturbing examples of why the rules need to change: This first example actually happened in our office. In May of 2015, I was unaware of the "confirmation" procedure. We got a "confirmation" fax from 1-800-contacts regarding one of our patients, the problem was, the Rx was expired. As our policy dictates, I called the patient with the intention of letting her know that the Rx had expired and that it was time for her annual exam. The patient interrupted my spiel saying that she had ordered her contacts several weeks before and that she had already received her annual supply. I was taken aback and did not know what to say other than that an annual exam is important and that it would be a good idea for her to come in for her exam despite having her supply for several reasons including making sure the Rx was accurate and making sure the health of the inside of her eyes was still good. She respectfully declined and said that she would see us next year. We never got the IVR phone confirmation, despite what 1-800-contacts claim. This is a potentially dangerous situation. They see a non-answer as confirmation. This is simply unacceptable. This next example is a hypothetical example that I have to 1-800-contacts when I called to complain about the above-mentioned situation: Let's say a patient has a -4.00 Rx in each eye and their Rx is still valid. So, the patient goes to 1-800-contact's website and ordered a supply. Let's also say that the doctor's office has taken a day off or that the doctor is working at a different location that day or for WHATEVER reason, the office is closed. Let's also say 1-800-contacts calls the office and the machine picks up and they "leave a message" or for whatever reason the doctor's office doesn't get the message... BUT the patient got fat-fingered, as it were, and accidentally, without resizing it, ordered a -7.00. 1-800-contacts never heard from the doctor's office and assumes the Rx is correct and ships the inaccurate -7.00 Rx to the patient. The patient assumes the Rx is correct because they think the contact lens company is linked to the doctor's office and puts in the wrong Rx the next morning. Being the morning, the patient doesn't realize the Rx isn't right and accommodates all the way to the car. The patient gets on the road and misses a light or stop-sign and gets into a fatal car accident simply because the wrong Rx was shipped and the doctor never had time to reply, tried to reply but was unable to get through the maze of the IVR, or simply never got that "confirmation." This is unacceptable. The online company does not operate under the same ethical standards that a doctor's office is not only morally obligated to operate under, but legally as well. To them, they are a customer, not a patient. Something needs to give. Either there needs to be stronger rules for the online companies... treating them as a health care providers, distributing medical equipment with appropriate guidelines or something else needs to happen. Think about pharmacies: imagine a patient is allowed to order their medication online. Say the patient needs Lisinporil but accidentally orders Limbrel with a wrong click. Can you imagine the fall out from this sort of situation? Lisinporil is just as much as a medical device as a contact lens with similar implications. One does not normally think of a contact lens as a life saving thing, but order the wrong kind or treat it poorly and it CAN cost one's life! We are doctors. We are obligated to do no harm. One's heart doctor is bound by the same standards. Again, the online companies are not. Profit for doctors aside, this needs to change.