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Podcast: 10 Reasons Eyecare Doctors Get Sued, and How to Avoid Being One of Them

New podcast promises “tips, news and tricks for those who live the optometry lifestyle.”




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GETTING SUED — or, more accurately, how not to get sued — is the topic in this guest podcast from Roya Habibi, OD and Jimmy Deom, OD, of Try Not to Blink.

In this episode, Habibi and Deom discuss the 10 top reasons that eyecare doctors are sued by their patients and what you can do to avoid legal trouble.

The good news? Roya cites statistics that only 20% of lawsuits go to trial, and that only 3% of those cases end up with a judgement in favor of the plaintiff. But there are numerous best practices that will help you protect yourself.


Try Not to Blink launched in June and have released more than 20 episodes. The podcast’s mission, according to its founders, is providing “tips, news and tricks for those who live the optometry lifestyle.”

Episodes to be featured on INVISIONMAG.COM in the coming weeks will cover eye trauma, the use of cannabis in eye treatment, and vision therapy.

Habibi is a fellowship-trained optometrist practicing in Seattle, WA, not to mention a dog lover, foodie and adventure enthusiast. Two of her major professional interests are solving the problem of dry eye disease and utilizing scleral contact lenses, “particularly when prescribed outside-the-box”.

Deom is a father, husband, beekeeper, chicken farmer, and passionate eye doc. He is an owner of a large, two-location multidisciplinary practice “in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania”. Professionally, Deom has particular interests in scleral contact lenses, advanced dry eye treatment, brain injury and vision rehabilitation.

(Warning: This podcast contains a bit of off-color language for anyone offended by such.)

  • 3:30 Guest Trudi Charest, of eyecare marketing consultant 4ECPs, describes her business and her conference, the first ever marketing and technology focused conference for ODs.
  • 6:00 Jimmy says he hears a little “Canadian bacon” in Trudi’s accent, and she admits to being Canadian.
  • 7:50 What inspired Trudi to switch from being an optical professional to the marketing business.
  • 10:45 Her favorite piece of easy-to-implement advice for eyecare professionals looking to boost their marketing. Don’t be stingy. Too many eyecare business owners, says Trudi “don’t see marketing as an investment, instead they see it as an expense.” If you do it right, you can get a 10x return on every dollar you spend.
  • 12:25 Trudy invites readers to her Nov. 6 marketing and technology event, Eye Innovate, with a special offer.
  • 17:40 Roya shares some eye headlines from around the country. South Carolina woman admitted to killing her husband with Visine. Jimmy and Roya discuss the effects of an overdose of tetrahydrozoline. Says Jimmy “No Visine for your patients. I’ve never heard of anyone dying from Lumify.”
  • 24:00 Preparing for Halloween. Roya and Jimmy talk about their halloween costumes of the past, including the time his parents sent him out in a paper bag with a face drawn on it. Roya’s memorable costume? The year she was a fisherman and her dog was a lobster.
  • 28:20 Reasons eyecare professionals get sued. Some fairly reassuring facts: Only 20% of lawsuits typically go to trial. And of those, only 3% of verdicts are in the plaintiff’s favor. In most other cases, a settlement is made before trial or the case is dismissed.
  • 29:00 The top three disorders that are reasons for getting sued — failure to diagnose a retinal detachment, failure to diagnose glaucoma, failure to detect tumors.
  • 29:50 Discussion of glaucoma. Jimmy says ophthalmoglists tend to be much more aggressive about checking for and diagnosing glaucoma than optometrists. Roya disagrees.
  • 34:00 Jimmy and Roya talk about diagnosing patients with glaucoma, and “the pit in your stomach” that you feel when you have to tell a patient something is wrong. And how awkward it feels to diagnose a patient who has been seeing another doctor, who didn’t catch the anomaly. Jimmy says it doesn’t get you anywhere to trash-talk another doctor. “You don’t know what was said, and what was done, it’s just a total hypothesis.” If the patient asks, he’ll tell them, of course. But his general philosophy is to “take care of the problem in front” of him.
  • 36:10 The top 10 mistakes that can land an OD in court. The biggest mistake? Failure to dilate the pupil.
  • 40:00 Roya and Jimmy discuss having waivers for patients who refuse dilation. Roya doesn’t have a waiver; Jimmy does. Jimmy says he mostly uses these to emphasize to his patients the importance of the procedure.
  • 40:55 The second biggest mistake that can get an eye doctor into legal trouble? When doctors do not determine the cause of reduced acuity — i.e. too quickly writing visual deterioration off as “amblyopia”. You have to check for and eliminate other options before deciding the reason for a patient’s issues are merely lazy eye.
  • 42:30 Roya discusses a teenage girl’s case, who was diagnosed with lazy eye. Months later, she was seeing flashing lights and her vision had deteriorated from 20/60 to 20/400 in one eye. She was sent to a neurosurgean where a large brain tumor. After the surgery, the girl ended up blind in both eyes. The optometrist was sued and the family won $9.2 million in the malpractice suit.
  • 47:25 The next-biggest mistake is not referring and not re-calling. Jimmy makes the point how when a patient doesn’t come for an appointment, it can legally be YOUR fault. Roya continues that eye doctors can find themselves in legal jeopardy long after they’ve last seen a patient — if, for example, that patient was found to have glaucoma — because they didn’t emphasize the seriousness of the referral, or set a specific time frame for the referral.
  • 50:30 More mistakes: Not offering impact-resistant lenses when they are requested. Not doing a periodic health exam on contact lens wearers. Not telling patients about suspicious findings.
  • 53:20 And a few more: Not doing a visual field on children. Not following co-management protocol. Not getting informed consent. And, finally, poor record-keeping. (Both Jimmy and Roya share some grumbling about the difficulty and the intensity of the record-keeping required in optometry.)
  • 57:20 Roya offers a couple of take-home points: Dilate and have the best possible relationships with your patients.



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