Delegation By Opticians
Delegation is when a regulated health professional transfers their authority to perform a controlled act to a person who is not authorized to perform that act. Delegation can only occur where it complies with relevant standards and/or regulations governing the professional who is delegating the act.
In Ontario, registered opticians who choose to delegate must do so in accordance with the Standards of Practice, and in particular Standard 10: Delegation.
If you choose to delegate to a non-optician, it is important to keep the following in mind:
Delegation is different from assignment. Opticians may assign tasks that are not considered controlled acts (e.g. data entry, minor repairs such as replacing a screw) to non-opticians. As with delegation, the best interest of the patient should always be the main consideration and the optician remains responsible for all patient outcomes.
Opticians are also eligible to receive delegation from another regulated health professional (e.g. optometrist) to perform a controlled act that is otherwise outside the scope of opticianry.
Receiving delegation is also covered by Standard 10 of the Standards of Practice. It is important to remember that you cannot receive delegation, even from another optician, while your certificate of registration has been suspended, or is subject to a term, condition or limitation that prohibits you from performing the controlled act in question.
When you receive delegation, the delegating health professional will bear ultimate responsibility for the patient outcome. But, as an optician, you always remain responsible for acting competently, ethically and in accordance with the Standards. In particular, when receiving delegation, you remain responsible for ensuring that:
Many opticians work in collaborative practice environments with optometrists and/or ophthalmologists, and may be asked to carry out pre-testing tasks prior to the patient receiving an eye exam or assessment.
In general, most pre-testing tasks are not controlled acts and can be assigned by a prescriber to an optician, rather than delegated. Whether the task is assigned or delegated, though, the optician remains responsible for ensuring they have the requisite knowledge and training to perform it safely and competently, and that the person assigning or delegating the task to them is authorized to do so.
The Choice is Yours Alone
It is important to remember that you are never required to delegate or assign tasks to a non-optician, nor are you ever required to accept delegation or assignment from another regulated health professional. If you choose to give or receive delegation, you take on the responsibilities that come with it.