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Optometrist warned after malignant melanoma.

AN OPTOMETRIST who found a pigmented lesion in a patient's eye and did not carry out a full assessment has been given a warning by a GOC fitness to practise panel.

However, Kin Weng Foo was found not guilty of deficient professional performance, and that his fitness to practise as an optometrist was not impaired.

The case emerged from an eye examination Mr Foo carried out on November 20, 2009 at Tesco Opticians, Shoreham-by-Sea on an unnamed male patient.

The GOC's case was that Mr Foo, having noticed the lesion, failed to provide adequate care for Patient A in that he did not carry out appropriate testing and did not urgently refer Patient A. It was also alleged that he did not fully inform Patient A of his findings and the potential seriousness of them.

Four days later Patient A went to another opticians where an optometrist noted a pigmented lesion and immediately referred him to the Hospital Eye Service where a malignant melanoma of the choroid was diagnosed and subsequently treated.


The panel found that Mr Foo did not utilise pupil dilation and indirect ophthalmoscopy as he ought to have done. The consequence of this was that the level of information as to the potential of the lesion that he had was limited. In such circumstances he was in error to assume that it was benign and ought to have arranged for an urgent referral.

His failings, said the panel's chairman, Lady Margaret Wall, when considered together, reached 'the threshold of misconduct'.

"The consequences of not acting appropriately on such a clinical presentation are potentially life threatening."

Nevertheless, her panel was not persuaded that the clinical judgement of Mr Foo was so 'extraordinary bad that impairment is made out either on the basis of risk to the public or bringing the profession into disrepute or breaching one of the fundamental tenets of the profession.'

"For the AOP, this decision represents yet another successful defence of an AOP member who had been charged with being unfit to practise on the basis of one single episode of (now proven) clinical misjudgement," said Ella Power (pictured), solicitor at the AOP.

"We are satisfied with the result, not least because it required counsel instructed by the AOP to resist some robust submissions by the GOC on the potential risk to the reputation of the profession, which if made out could have had some very far reaching implications for the profession."

* See also column, left.
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Title Annotation:NEWS; Kin Weng Foo
Publication:Optometry Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 27, 2012
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