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Clinical Care and Practice Advancement

Hospital Privileges Manual

The health care delivery system in the United States is changing.  Whether it is called health care reform, managed competition, managed care, or simply, market-driven integration of delivery, the fact is optometry must be prepared to deliver its services in a variety of new forms.  Patients need access to optometrists in their offices, in long-term care facilities, at home, and in hospitals.  Optometrists must be prepared to provide services in all of these locations.  Hospitals will play an important role in future health care delivery and optometrists must continue to seek and be granted hospital privileges.

This Manual serves to educate optometrists about the advantages of hospital privileges and the importance of optometry to the hospital.  Important information about hospital bylaws and legal issues is also covered in detail. A section on how to obtain privileges can serve as a guideline for optometrists interested in applying for hospital privileges. The use of this guideline must be tempered by the specific situation presented by the particular hospital to which you are applying. For those optometrists who already have privileges or for those optometrists new to the hospital environment, the Manual has sections on the optometric examination, equipment, laboratory tests, imaging, and other diagnostic procedures; diagnostic coding and charting are also covered.

A recent health care publication reports, “Competing successfully in the new environment will mean streamlining and integrating delivery of care. Central to this integration will be the formation of strong physician-hospital linkages.”1 This Manual may help optometrists in their efforts to succeed and flourish in this new environment.

The Advantages of Hospital Privileges to an Optometrist

Optometrists are usually considered office-based primary eye care providers. So why do they need hospital privileges? The reasons can be as different as the communities they live in and as varied as their individual practice modes. Having hospital privileges ensures continuity of care for patients by providing a heightened awareness of the need for and value of in-hospital eye health care. Optometrists are able to serve their already established patients who may suffer eye-related symptoms or complications while hospitalized. This may include providing glaucoma medication, or monitoring and evaluating sudden onset of ocular pain, as well as flashes or floaters in the eye.

The benefits of having hospital privileges can be simply summarized as follows:

  • Continuity of care for patients
  • Improved access to supplementary diagnostic tests
  • Networking and referral opportunities with primary care and specialist physicians and others within the mainstream of health care
  • Inclusion on provider panels
  • Continuing education and library resources
  • Participation in interprofessional research studies
  • Benefits resulting from hospital marketing efforts
  • Participation in community educational programs and health care screenings.