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Written Rx Looks Different in the Digital Age

April 04, 2016 11:08 AM | Mark Miller (Administrator)


Phones, televisions and even the written eyeglass Rx look different than they did just 10 years ago. While POF is not able to provide technical support for your smart phone or Wi-Fi connected flat screen, we can provide technical guidance on some of the questions you may have about the recent changes and developments that have affected written eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the changing look of the Rx;

  • Is it illegal to maintain in our files an eyeglass or contact lens Rx written on counterfeit proof pad that has the word VOID or ILLEGAL printed on it?
  • Can opticians maintain copies of filled eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions electronically in their office instead of the paper version?
  • Is a prescription that has been digitally signed by the prescriber when no written signature appears is that legally acceptable?

POF provides responses to your questions

Can a VOIDED Rx Still be Filled & Filed?

In an effort to curtail the use of counterfeit prescriptions to illegally obtain controlled medications, Florida enacted a law that requires all "prescribing practitioners" to use counterfeit proof prescription pads. The law was passed in 2011 and implemented late in 2012 requiring that all written prescriptions for controlled substances incorporate a number of security features that make them extremely difficult to duplicate.

One of the key security features that is required on the new prescription pads is the word "void" or "illegal" must appear on any photo copy or reproduction of the Rx. While this security feature works well for controlled substances, it has proved problematic for some opticians that have received prescriptions from a doctor's office that prints out medication and eyeglass prescriptions on the same pad. When the optician makes a photo copy of the Rx for their file or to return a copy to the patient, one of them will have the word "VOID" appearing on it.

A number of concerned opticians have contacted the POF office asking if it would it be legal and acceptable for the optician to maintain the copy that has the word void written on it? We all know there is a small chance that the patient is going to happily accept the voided one back as their copy.

When this issue was bought to the attention of POF's executive director Mark Miller he researched the original intent of the legislation and the exact wording of the administrative codes (rules) to see if and how the new requirement would affect other prescriptions. The wording was very clear that the new prescription pad requirement was intended only for controlled substances.

Even with this clear wording, Mr. Miller felt it was important to take this question and the findings to the Board of Opticianry to ensure that they were interpreting the information the same way.

During their November meeting the attorney for Board of Opticianry Douglas Dolan, stated " this law relates to controlled substances. It is not illegal to maintain records /prescriptions with VOID on them since practitioners are now using the tamperproof scripts."

So the good news is that you are welcome to accept, fill and copy eyewear and contact lens prescriptions that are printed on the new counterfeit proof pads regardless of whether they have VOID printed on them.

A Digital Duplicate of Prescriptions

Another question concerning prescriptions many opticians have is the 2 year requirement for opticians to maintain a copy of the patient's prescriptions that they fill in the optical and whether they are required to maintain the Rx in its original paper form or can they store them electronically. Since this was not specifically addressed in our statutes, POF also sought the Board of Opticianry's guidance on the legality of the digital copy during the November meeting.

Again, according to Board's Counsel, Douglas Dolan, "there is no prohibition in the law, therefore, prescriptions can be maintained electronically"

The bottom line is yes you can maintain digital/electronically copy of your patient's eyewear Rx – and you are welcome to do away with those large filing cabinets and maintain those records on a laptop. However a secure off-site backup system of those required records is strongly advised.

Digitally Signed Prescription

Another digital age question that we are asked about regularly is if an optician can fill an eyeglass or contact lens prescription that is digitally signed by the doctor without a hand written or "live" signature on the pad.

The short answer is yes, there are both state and federal regulations that allow doctors to write prescriptions with digital signatures - which automatically allows you to fill the prescription with a digital signature. And you are likely to see most prescriptions go digital along with the electronic signature in the near future if you have not seen it already in your area.

The federal government has been encouraging doctors to move in the direction of electronic prescribing with the creation of section 132 of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA). The act is still voluntary however it authorized separate incentive programs for electronic prescribing.

While the act was not specifically designed to include eyeglass prescriptions, the fact that doctors' offices are setting up their practice with electronic prescribing for pharmaceuticals it would only make sense that prescriptions for medical devices would be generated out of the same system which would include a digital signature.

This and other articles on this website should not be considered legal advice, only our opinion of how regulations are affecting current issues within the profession. Please check with your own legal representative or with the board of opticianry concerning your specific situation.

Please continue to send POF your questions so we can continue to assist the profession in dealing with current issues.


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