Optometrist fails boy with brain tumour who went completely blind in one eye

An optometrist has apologised for inadequate care of a six-year-old boy who was found to have a brain tumour and improvements are being made at the practice where he worked.

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Meenal Duggal yesterday released a report finding the optometrist in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights for providing inadequate care to the boy.

The boy ultimately underwent surgery to remove the brain tumour. Following surgery, it was confirmed he was completely blind in his right eye and had 1/30 acuity in his left eye.

The optometrist is not currently practising.

Ms Duggal has made recommendation to the optometry practice, including better education of clinical staff, a review of processes and an audit of referrals.

The optometrist had recorded the boy's visit as a routine one and did not appropriately document symptoms, family ocular history, general health or medications.

The boy was unable to identify letters on the chart at six metres from his right eye and the performance of his left eye rated six out of 10.

The optometrist diagnosed the boy with amblyopia and possible right eye exotropia, and prescribed glasses.

He did not perform appropriate diagnostic tests to rule out pathology or refer the boy for further testing, and no follow up or further investigation was noted. The boy was subsequently diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Ms Duggal said the optometrist did not take appropriate steps to test the right eye and there were no referrals, further investigations or treatment plan.

She also found the optometrist failed to appropriately document the patient history and reason or reasons for the boy's first consultation.

The optometry practice was found vicariously liable for the inadequate care provided by the optometrist.

The practice didn't have policies or procedures in place relating to staffing levels when unexpected leave was required, and the standard of consultation form used at the time was found to be wanting.