NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 11, 2014) – A newly released statewide poll shows that nearly 85 percent of Tennesseans oppose legislation pending in the Tennessee General Assembly, SB220/HB555, which would allow optometrists – who are not medical doctors and have no surgical residency training – to perform invasive eyelid surgery with injectable anesthesia.
HB555 passed out of the House Health Committee on February 26. Its companion, SB220 was approved by the Senate Health Committee by a vote of 5 to 4 on March 10.
Currently, only medical doctors licensed by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners may perform surgical eye procedures requiring injectable anesthesia, but passage of SB220/HB555 would remove this restriction. Additionally, the legislation weakens the oversight authority of the Board of Medical Examiners in regard to regulating who can perform this type of invasive surgery.
The poll was conducted by Southern Media & Opinion Research, Inc. The poll was designed to obtain the opinions of Tennessee voters on health care as it pertains to surgical eye care and on proposed legislative changes. Interviews were completed by telephone with 500 Tennessee likely voters. The interviews were conducted on Wednesday, March 5, and Thursday, March 6, 2014. The margin of error is plus/minus 4.4 percent.
Tennessee voters are clear: They oppose optometrists being allowed to perform eye surgery requiring injectable local anesthesia:
• Nearly 85% oppose changing the current law to allow non-M.D.s to perform eye-related surgery requiring local injectable anesthesia.
• Nearly 85% said that, when it comes to eye-related surgery, every patient deserves the safest and best care possible from medical doctors who are trained surgeons.
• 90% said that when it comes to eye-related surgery requiring local anesthesia, having it done by a licensed medical doctor trained in eye surgery is more important than having it done at a convenient location by an optometrist – a non- M.D.
• More than 76% opposed weakening the current oversight authority of the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners to regulate those performing eye-related surgery requiring injectable anesthesia.