An Adelaide optometrist who secretly tampered with more than 400 glasses prescriptions has been stripped of his registration.
- Ashok Bhoola denies altering hundreds of eye prescriptions
- But a tribunal has found he was behind tampering which undermined his business partner’s self-confidence
- His registration has been cancelled for 12 months and he will have to pay legal costs
The SA Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Ashok Bhoola secretly and dishonestly altered his patients’ prescriptions on 410 occasions in 2015 and 2016.
Mr Bhoola, who was working at Specsavers West Lakes in Adelaide’s north at the time, denies altering the prescriptions.
But investigations by the franchise, including analysis by a forensic accountant, showed he “must have been” responsible.
The tribunal was unable to determine a clear reason for the man’s behaviour.
But the alterations had the effect of undermining his business partner’s confidence and causing her to believe she was making “silly mistakes”.
Patients’ welfare put at risk
In total, 359 pairs of glasses were manufactured using the altered scripts, according to the tribunal’s judgement.
Of those, 313 pairs were found to be defective and 96 were returned to the store.
“We found that the respondent did this deliberately without clinical justification and contrary to the interests of the patients, and that his actions put the welfare of patients at risk,” the judgement reads.
“[Mr Bhoola] chose to deny responsibility. He has maintained that position since then.”
Changes undermined business partner
The man’s “scheme” was detected after his business partner, a fellow optometrist, noticed she was apparently making errors in recording eyesight test results.
The woman “suffered a significant loss of confidence” and was embarrassed when other staff members noticed the incorrect results.
She even considered leaving her role to work in a less busy workplace.
However, her concerns led her to keep a series of records and the Specsavers franchise eventually investigated the problem.
The investigation revealed somebody had “systematically” altered the prescriptions using Mr Bhoola’s login details.
Because Mr Bhoola denied involvement, the question was raised whether it was him or somebody else who made the changes.
But ultimately, the investigation found he was the only person present at the store on each of the occasions when changes were made.
Specsavers terminated its business arrangement with Mr Bhoola, effectively dismissing him.
“The forensic evidence was very detailed … suffice it to say that we found it persuasive in showing that it must have been the respondent who made the script alterations,” the judgment says.
The tribunal issued the man with a reprimand for professional misconduct and cancelled his registration for 12 months.
It also ordered he pay the Optometry Board of Australia’s legal costs.