An Optometrist’s Guide to Clinical Ethics. R. Norman Bailey, Elizabeth Heitman, eds. St Louis, MO: American Optometric Association, 2000. Pages: 180. Price: $19.95. ISBN 0-97000610-0-1.
This FIGURE eminently useful publication is authored by 14 optometrists and two persons with credentials and academic standing in ethics who are external to the optometric profession. All told, 14 short and easily read chapters explore a variety of circumstances that most clinicians experience (or will experience) in contemporary practice. The book is initiated by chapters that provide essential background for ethical considerations in the clinical practice of optometry. A functional glossary of terms is a handy guide, and both historians and optometrists will find prior American Optometric Association resolutions important guideposts for the evolution of optometric clinical ethics.
Embodied in 11 chapters are “case studies” of circumstances that provoke thoughtful consideration by the optometrist and that rest on ethical concerns more than clinical findings. These contrived case studies have real-life meanings to thoughtful and concerned practitioners. That they have been chronicled is one of the two major contributions of the booklet. The second major strength is the excellent essay (presented as a Forward) on Professional Obligations and Optometry by Professor David T. Ozar, Director of the Center for Ethics, Loyola University of Chicago. It should be essential reading for all optometry students and for the optometrists who want to recall the enduring values that make them part of a profession in a societal sense.
There are subjects that this text regrettably does not explore. Among these are commercial behavior, professional advocacy before third parties, the nuances of co-management issues, optometric involvement in laser refractive surgery, marketing and advertising, and the influence of the ophthalmic industry in individual and organizational ethics. These concerns provide a formidable challenge to the “habits of the heart” (Robert Bellah) for practitioners in optometry, as in all health care professions.
CIBA Vision provided a generous grant to the American Optometric Association for the publication of this text and for its distribution to the membership.