How they differ
The two sets of standards differ in their requirements for informed consent. Both call for patients and surgeons to discuss the procedure in advance of the surgery, but the Optical Confederation specifies that “in some instances this may be conducted by videoconference or telephone.”
By contrast, the RCO standards specify that the consultation “should be a face-to-face consultation (not conducted by telephone).”
“We think the interview prior to the surgery should be face to face,” Hewlett said. “We also recognise that there are other circumstances where a teleconference would be acceptable.”
Many patients today are quite comfortable discussing surgery through video conferencing technology, he said.
In many other respects, the two sets of guidelines are similar. Regarding the reporting of data, the RCO standards calls for refractive surgeons to report safety concerns and annual data about outcomes of their own practices and to “contribute to national programmes to monitor quality and outcomes, including those of any relevant device registries.”
Both the professional organisations’ proposed standards reference the General Medical Council (GMC), which has stated that standards for refractive surgery should be similar to those for cosmetic procedures laid out in its June 2016 document, “Guidance for doctors who offer cosmetic interventions.”
The draft standards both extrapolate from the principles in the GMC guidance to provide more detailed rules specific to refractive surgery.