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Ophthalmic Agents

May 10, 2019

Note: This article was originally published in our Spring 2019 edition of our On Call newsletter, and has not been updated.

An amendment was made to allow parents to opt out of the mandatory administration of ophthalmic agents to a newborn’s eyes shortly after birth

On January 1, 2019, an amendment was made to the Communicable Diseases – General Regulation (R.R.O. 1990, Reg.  557) under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (R.S.O. 1990, c. H.7), allowing parents to opt out of the mandatory administration of ophthalmic agents (e.g. erythromycin eye ointment) to a newborn’s eyes shortly after birth.

If parents choose to opt out of the mandatory administration of erythromycin, one of the newborn’s parents must make the request in writing and the following conditions must be met:

  • They must have received information about the benefits and risks of administering the eye ointment.
  • They must have received information on the likely consequences of not administering the eye ointment.
  • An assessment has determined that the newborn is not at serious risk of being infected by an agent (e.g. Neisseria gonorrhoea, Chlamydia trachomatis) that might cause ophthalmia neonatorum.