Patient Safety Information


Healthcare quality and safety and clinical governance are interlinked. Standards of practice for ophthalmic care are available in guidelines from the College and the National Institute for Health Clinical Excellence (NICE) and others and in position papers from the College’s Professional Standards Committee. The maintenance of such standards in ophthalmology at organisational level is achieved through adequate staffing levels, proper facilities and appropriate managerial support. Strict attention to detail and careful consideration of the patient pathway is needed to maintain and to enhance ophthalmic patient care and service delivery.

The Professional Standards Committee or its Quality and Safety Group regularly issues clinical statements or advice for ophthalmologists and related professionals to help enhance patient safety or share information.

RCOphth joins with CORESS: the Confidential Reporting System for Surgery

Learning the lessons from problems, mistakes and near-misses is essential to the development of a high-quality service. It is important to have a system which disseminates learning points to the relevant professionals. Reporting systems originated in the airline industry: their programme for Confidential Human Factors Incident RePorting (CHIRP) had been very successful in passing on ‘lessons from problems’, and thereby improving safety. Since 2005, a similar system was set up by the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, called the Confidential Reporting System for Surgery (CORESS). The CORESS system now encompasses all the surgical specialties in UK and Irish practice and the four surgical Royal Colleges. In the summer of 2013, the RCOphth entered a formal agreement to join CORESS.
Ophthalmologists are encouraged to report adverse events to CORESS, via the website   On-line reporting is quick and simple, and reporters can be reassured that all reports will be anonymised and ‘disidentified’. Reporting a problem (and the resultant learning points) will assist your colleagues, and you will get an acknowledgement which can be added to your Revalidation folder. Perhaps most importantly, the patient who suffered the problem can be reassured that ‘I’ve reported this problem to the other eye doctors in the whole country, so hopefully it won’t happen again’.
Clinical Statement / Advice Related Document(s) or Links
Advice on generic latanoprost prescribing (updated 31 May 2013)
The patent for Xalatan® expired on 17 January 2012. The MHRA has granted Pfizer and twenty other companies licences for generic latanoprost production. At least ten of these companies, including Pfizer, are now distributing generic latanoprost eye drops in the UK.
Advice on generic latanoprost prescribing

Statement on Visual Screening in Children and Young People - May 2011 'The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) supports the evidence-based national programme aimed at detecting vision defects in children through clinical examinations by appropriately trained staff ('

Full statement
College statement on preventing venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing ophthalmic procedures. May 2010  
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has been working with the National Patient Safety Agency to produce a safer surgery checklist for cataract surgery.

It is a bespoke checklist for surgery in the NHS and is clinically led by the RCOphth. The Checklist was launched at the RCOphth Congress on 25 May 2010 in Liverpool.

Local adaptation of this Checklist is also encouraged to ensure it is effectively integrated into clinical practice. Any adaptations should be undertaken in accordance with your local governance scrutiny process.

The NPSA/RCOphth safer surgery checklist for cataract surgery is the WHO surgical checklist of the month, August 2010.

Cataract Surgery Checklist (PDF)

Cataract Surgery Checklist (Word)

NPSA/RCOphth Cataract Surgery Checklist available formatted, in various sizes & with supporting information on the NPSA website

The Checklist is adapted from the NPSA WHO Surgical Safety Checklist to ensure it is relevant & applicable to cataract surgery & all key clinical risks in this environment are addressed. It should be used for all patients having cataract surgery.

NPSA Press release

Reclassification of tamsulosin as a pharmacy medicine

The medicines and Healthcare regulatory Agency (MHRA) has reclassified tamsulosin as a pharmacy drug rather than a prescription drug. The College has made know its concerns regarding cataract surgery and patients who have taken the drug. The effects of the drug can last a number of years and any history of taking the drug should be emphasised as part of the history taking process for cataract surgery. The topic will be added to the cataract surgery guidelines which are currently under review. It is also important that ophthalmologists continue to report occurrences of intra-operative floppy iris syndrome via the MHRA's yellow card system.

Mr Richard Smith, Chairman of the Professional Standards Committee & Vice President, May 2010


Archived statements:

Please contact the College for copies of archived statements

  • Proposal to withdraw Betadine Aqueous solution - March 2007 document reference 2007/PROF/059

  • Povidone Iodine 5% - July 2007 - 2007/PROF/0058