Ophthalmologists who are members of the American Academy of Ophthalmology have to comply with the organization’s Code of Ethics. In case you have concerns about your ophthalmologist’s unethical behavior, especially in the handling of your case, you can reports your concerns to its Academy Ethics Committee. Here’s useful information that you can refer to in this case.
Authority Over Members Only
First and foremost, keep in mind that the Academy only has authority over its members, which means non-members cannot be investigated by the Academy for unethical behavior. For example, if the ophthalmologist or optometrist at Sam’s Club isn’t a member of the Academy, you have to find another way to air your complaints.
An investigation, furthermore, over unethical behavior conducted by the Ethics Committee will not also affect the concerned ophthalmologist’s license to practice medicine. Plus, ophthalmologists cannot be investigated by the Ethics Committee for fee disputes, in accordance with federal regulations.
As a patient filing a complaint against your ophthalmologist, you will not be required to pay any fees (i.e., no cost to file). But you have to know that there will be other costs, such as your time, energy, and money to file the complaint, correspond with the Committee, and settle the case, among other activities related to the investigation.
You should also know that your written permission is required by the Ethics Committee to share any of the records, reports, and information gathered during the investigation as well as the results of the investigation with third parties. You and your ophthalmologist have reasonable access to these matters. You are also well-advised to refrain from indiscriminate narration of the complaint under investigation.
You cannot, however, ask for assistance from the Academy in case of civil litigation wherein malpractice by the ophthalmologist is alleged. You are also protected by federal regulations when your complaint is filed in good faith. Your ophthalmologist, on the other hand, is guaranteed to the right to due process.
In reporting your concerns about your ophthalmologist’s unethical behavior, you can follow these steps:
- Check your ophthalmologist’s membership status in the Academy (i.e., use the Fins an Eye M.D. database on the official website)
- Review the Academy’s Code of Ethics in determining whether your concern can be addressed by the Ethics Committee
- Download the Patient and Public Submission Form, complete and sign it, and mail it to the Ethics Committee, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 655 Beach Street, San Francisco, CA 94109. Take note that the Committee will not accept electronic submissions (e.g., email)
You will receive an acknowledgement letter from the Committee. You should be patient as the Committee will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the complaint before action can be taken.