The Board of Optometry is a state regulatory agency charged with licensing optometrists, and ensuring that Minnesota optometrists meet minimum standards of practice. Licensees must have successfully completed specific requirements, such as education, experience, and examination. Each licensee must maintain a current license.
The Minnesota Optometric Practice Act (Minnesota Statutes 148.52) requires the Board of Optometry the authority to limit, suspend, or revoke an optometrists’ privilege to practice optometry in Minnesota if the optometrist does not meet Minnesota’s standards for optometric practice.
The Board’s responsibility is to protect you, the patient and defer future violations.
This following was developed to help you understand the Board’s role – and its complaint review process.
The Board of Optometry
The Board of Optometry has seven members – five licensed optometrists and two members of the general public, all appointed by the Governor. The Board and its staff work closely with attorneys from the Minnesota State Attorney General’s Office when reviewing complaints against optometrists.
Filing a Complaint
If you have a complaint involving the practice of optometry, or a licensed optometrist, you may wish to seek action from the Minnesota Board of Optometry. Anyone can make a formal complaint to the Board. You must submit your complaint in writing, on a special form provided, to the Board of Optometry. The Board’s complaint review process actually begins when the Board receives your completed, notarized complaint. The board will acknowledge in writing your formal complaint and will update your file after each quarterly board meeting.
First, the Board’s staff gathers information from a variety of sources; starting with the information you include in your complaint. The staff will gather health records, interview those involved and collect data. You will be asked to sign a release of information form to allow the Board to obtain your medical records.
By reviewing the information collected, the Board is able to learn whether the optometrist involved has violated Minnesota’s Optometric Practice Act. The Board will give your complaint serious consideration and further investigative action may be taken, if appropriate. A referral of a complaint for further investigation does not necessarily mean that a licensing violation has occurred.
The Hearing Process
If a hearing is needed, a hearing examiner from the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings will conduct the hearing. An Assistant Attorney General will present the evidence. All relevant documents will be subpoenaed, and the testimony of witnesses will be recorded. After the hearing, the examiner will prepare a formal report for the Board. The Board will then make a decision about your complaint, based on the examiner’s report and the evidence presented at the hearing. The Board’s decision will specify any sanctions or penalties to be imposed
Does It Take Long?
The length of the review process tends to vary with the complexity of the complaint; some reviews move very quickly; others take months, some have taken years.
The Complaint Resolution Committee meets quarterly and you will have a written update as to the status of your complaint following that meeting. Board staff will notify of you of the formal action once the review process is complete and the Board has made a decision on your complaint.
Action Taken by the Board
The Board can take a variety of actions:
It can direct formal or informal education to occur.
It can limit, suspend or revoke an optometrist’s license to practice optometry in Minnesota.
It can order optometrists to take more training, to stop performing certain procedures.
It can order optometrists to enroll in appropriate treatment programs.
It can issue a public letter of reprimand.
When the Board Cannot Help
The Board can only take action against an optometrist’s license. It cannot help you recover money from an optometrist. It cannot help you with problems with any other health care professional such as opticians or optical stores. The Board has no authority over how much a doctor charges for services. If the public complaint regards fees or money in general, the Attorney General’s office has a consumer affairs division dedicated and knowledgeable for all monetary cases and their eventual resolution.
The Board’s staff may advise you on the services of other governmental agencies or professional associations if the Board is not the appropriate agency to deal with your concerns. Filing a complaint with the Optometry Board will not preclude other legal action you may choose to consider.