breaking news

LIVE: In Delray, teens make emotional pleas - we are fed up with gun violence

POINT OF VIEW


As a doctor of medicine who has taken a solemn oath to do no harm, I am extremely troubled by a bill sponsored by state Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, that would allow optometrists — practitioners who do not go to medical school — to use scalpels and lasers to perform surgery on the human eye.

While this is an extremely dangerous component of House Bill 1037, there is another portion that is just as dangerous. The bill would enable optometrists to prescribe virtually all oral medications in the Physician Desk Reference, including opioids and other habit-forming narcotics. In fact, the bill authorizes the state Board of Optometry to allow optometrists to prescribe some of the most addictive narcotics such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin).

Florida is the epicenter of our nation’s opioid addiction epidemic. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that “180,000 lives have been lost” due to opioid addiction since 2000. And The Palm Beach Post has reported that the opioid epidemic cost Florida hospitals over $1.1 billion in the first nine months of 2015, and contributed to nearly 600 overdose deaths in 2016.

As a medical doctor who treats thousands of patients with eye diseases each year, I’ve prescribed pain medications to only a handful of my patients. To combat this public health crisis, the last thing the state of Florida should do is issue new prescribing pads to 4,000 nonmedical professionals.

I’m not naïve. I fully understand that the optometrists have funneled millions of dollars into the legislative process. It’s no shock to me that they would seek something in return. I am shocked, however, that lawmakers are being misled into giving them “something” that would endanger patients and exacerbate the opioid addiction epidemic that scourges our state.

The right thing to do is for Diaz to pull his bill. Do it for the patients. Do it for those who are addicted, and do it for their kids. Do it to protect the people who elected him to serve on their behalf.

JAIME MEMBRENO, ORLANDO

Editor’s note: Dr. Jaime Membreno is legislative chairman of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

POINT OF VIEW:

It’s been almost 18 years since I lived through a school shooting. My good friend, Barry Grunow, was murdered on the last day of school by a student who brought a gun onto our campus. The recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has opened up some old wounds. Do the people I worked with know how much and how often I think about them?...
Editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon

CARTOON VIEW LEE JUDGE
Letters Clear thinking about West Palm golf course long overdue

Clear thinking on course long overdue Finally some clear thinking on the West Palm Beach public golf course. (“Developer to pour $86 million into reviving West Palm golf course,” Tuesday) I was a member for more than 20 years and enjoyed the golden era when Dub Pagan and the old guard ran the show. Nothing good has happened since the dity...
Editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon

CARTOON VIEW LISA BENSON
POINT OF VIEW: Affordable housing crisis answer in collaboration

Palm Beach County has more than 4,400 nonprofits that offer a hand to thousands of residents whose needs vary, including the elderly, those with physical or mental disabilities, the poor, homeless, abused, addicted and the list goes on. Despite the diverse missions of these organizations, there is a common thread — the need for affordable housing...
More Stories