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

Opinion: For the holidays, pull a tooth or save a life

Happy holidays! In the spirit of the season, here’s a suggestion: Instead of inflicting a garish tie on your brother or a carcinogenic face cream on your aunt, how about saving a life? It’s time for my annual “gifts with meaning” guide, with suggestions for presents that won’t just clog a chest of drawers. Consider a $20...
Opinion: Let’s liberate blacks from harmful left-wing politics

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows yet another perspective on the deep racial division in our country. According to the poll, 86 percent of blacks compared to 50 percent of whites say that President Trump does not “respect people of color as much as he respects white people.” However the partisan divide is even greater than the racial...
Letters Educating children is every taxpayer’s concern
Letters Educating children is every taxpayer’s concern

Educating children is everyone’s concern This is a response to the letter-writer who feels that we seniors shouldn’t have to pay school taxes because we don’t have children in school: I gladly paid school taxes on Long Island, New York, after my children were grown and before retiring to Boynton Beach. Why? Because my children&rsquo...
Gerson: ‘Darkest Hour’ proves that history can hinge on a single leader

The Winston Churchill biopic “Darkest Hour” is a movie that should be seen but not entirely believed. Gary Oldman’s alternately fierce and vulnerable Churchill is a triumph of both acting and the cosmetician’s art. Just hearing him deliver snippets of Churchill’s speeches is worth the ticket price. (Am I the only one who...
Dowd: Roadkill on Capitol Hill: Will this time mean real change?

Alan Simpson was appalled by the injustice of it all. Back in 1991, during the incendiary Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, the salty Republican senator from Wyoming was very concerned at the idea that a woman would wait many years after a disturbing encounter and then “come out of the night like a missile and destroy a man.” It has...
More Stories