Investigating the Complaint
A person making a complaint will be notified when the Board receives the complaint. The Executive Director, working with the Investigation-Enforcement Committee, will determine whether the complaint is within the legal authority of the Board. When the subject of the complaint is not within the legal authority of the Board, the person filing the complaint is notified that the complaint cannot be investigated. The optometrist may still be advised that a complaint has been received (for example, fee disputes and the doctor-patient relationship are not within the Optometry Board’s legal authority to investigate).
Investigation. If the Optometry Board can investigate a complaint, the complaint is sent to the optometrist to obtain the doctor’s response. When a response is received from the doctor, the Board’s investigator and the Investigation-Enforcement Committee (this Committee includes licensed optometrists) determine what additional information is required to investigate the complaint. Once the investigation is completed, a determination is made as to whether the optometry laws have been violated. If the evidence does not show that a violation of the law occurred, the person filing the complaint is notified that the investigation has been closed. The Board may suggest alternatives available, such as Small Claims Court in matters of fee disputes.
Violation of Law Found. If it appears that the optometrist did not obey the optometry laws, the Investigation-Enforcement Committee may take several actions: sending a letter of noncompliance, a letter of reprimand, holding an investigational hearing, and/or referring the matter for formal hearing. The Optometry Board may impose discipline, such as a letter of noncompliance, a formal reprimand, suspension, probation, or revocation, as well as administrative penalties. The optometrist has the legal right to dispute the charges of the Optometry Board, including the right to an administrative hearing or to file a lawsuit in District Court. If the investigation shows that the optometrist has violated the optometry laws, the Board may have authority to enter into an Agreed Order that may include the refund of examination fees. Complaints are logged and may be used as a basis for conducting investigations regarding compliance with laws regarding initial examinations by the optometrist. If an unlicensed individual or company appears to have violated the Optometry Act, the Board may issue a cease and desist order and/or the investigation may be referred to the Attorney General for appropriate action.