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  • Summary date: Apr 10 2023 - View Summary

    Amends GS 90-118.10 by amending the State's policy related to renewal of optometry licenses, so that all licenses, primary and branch (was, licenses), issued by the NC State Board of Examiners in Optometry (Board) are subject to annual renewal and the exercise of any privilege granted by the license is subject to the issuance of a certificate of renewal of license. Changes the date of the issuance of the renewal to on or before December 31 (was first day of January of each year). Makes conforming changes. Requires applicants for renewal to include their practice's street address in their renewal application. Changes the date of the application deadline from January 31 to January 1; changes the date by which a person who fails to apply for renewal is considered to be guilty of unauthorized practice of optometry from March 31 to January 31. Adds that if the inactive license is not renewed by December 31 of that year, then the license expires and is not eligible for renewal.

    Amends GS 90-123 as follows. Increases the following fees: application for general optometry license (was, exam), general optometry license renewal, and duplicate application for a branch office license or renewal (was, duplicate license or renewal) for each branch office. Adds fees for provisional license and renewal of a provisional license. Removes fees for certificate of license to a resident optometrist desiring to change to another state or territory, license to a practitioner of another state or territory to practice in North Carolina, and license to resume practice issued to an optometrist who has retired or who has left and returned to the state.

    Amends GS 90-121.2 as follows. Amends the conditions under which the Board may take disciplinary action by: (1) removing instances when the licensee is mentally, emotionally, or physically unfit to practice optometry or is afflicted with such a physical or mental disability as to be deemed dangerous to the health and welfare of their patients and (2) adding instances when a licensee is unable to practice optometry with reasonable skill and safety by reason of abuse of alcohol, drugs, chemicals, or any other type of substance, or by reason of any physical or mental illness, abnormality, or other limiting condition. Adds that the Board may order an applicant or licensee to submit to a mental or physical examination while a licensing application is pending, or before or after charges may be presented against the applicant or licensee. Allows results of the exam to be admissible in evidence in a hearing before the Board. Makes conforming changes. Makes failure to comply unprofessional conduct.

    Amends GS 90-121.6 by adding that reports licensed optometrists or those applying for licensure must make to the Board concerning medical malpractice must be made within 30 days of occurrence. Adds a provision setting out allowable methods for submitting these reports to the Board. Adds that failure to make these required reports is unprofessional conduct and grounds for discipline.

    Enacts new GS 90-121.7 imposing on licensees a duty to report  within 30 days any incidents the licensee reasonably believes to have occurred involving: (1) sexual misconduct of any person licensed by the Board with a patient and (2) fraudulent prescribing, drug diversion, or theft of any controlled substances by another person licensed by the Board. Failure to report is unprofessional conduct and grounds for discipline. Provides immunity from civil liability for those reporting in good faith and without fraud or malice. Reports made in bad faith, fraudulently, or maliciously are unprofessional conduct and grounds for discipline. Sets out the methods by which the reports can be submitted to the Board.

    Amends GS 90-137 to require when giving patients that have received an eye exam a copy of their spectacle prescription that it be consistent with Federal Trade Commission rules and guidelines.

    Enacts new GS 90-127.4 allowing an optometrist to register with the NC Board of Pharmacy to dispense drugs, limited to drugs for the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal conditions of the eye and its adnexa. Limits such dispensing to legend or prescription drugs to their own patients. Requires paying the dispensing fee and complying with the dispensing registration process. Requires registration with the NC Board of Pharmacy and the Board as well as compliance with all rules governing dispensing of drugs under this statute. 

    Enacts new GS 90-85.26B requiring dispensing optometrists dispensing prescription drugs to register annually with the Board and with the licensing board with jurisdiction over the dispensing optometrist. Requires dispensing to comply with laws and regulations applicable to pharmacists governing the distribution of drugs, including packaging, labeling, and record keeping. Discipline authority is vested in the licensing board having jurisdiction over the dispensing optometrist.

    Amends GS 90-85.25 to allow the NC Board of Pharmacy to charge dispensing optometrists an annual registration fee and a reinstatement of registration fee, both set at $75.

    Allows the Board and NC Board of Pharmacy to adopt temporary rules to implement the act. 

    Effective October 1, 2023.