On January 7, the AVMA House of Delegates approved several revisions to the association’s Model Veterinary Practice Act, a document routinely used by state legislators and regulatory bodies for guidance on appropriate oversight of veterinary medicine. A special task force reviewed extensive comments from veterinarians, the public and AVMA entities before recommending the changes to the House of Delegates and Executive Board. The newly revised version can be found at http://www.avma.org/issues/policy/mvpa.asp, and includes the following changes:
- A more descriptive definition of “animal” as meaning “any living organism, except humans, having sensation and the power of voluntary movement and requiring for its existence oxygen and organic nutrients.”
- A new definition of “complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies” as meaning “a heterogeneous group of preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic philosophies and practices that are not considered part of conventional (Western) medicine as practiced by most veterinarians and veterinary technicians,” replacing a definition referring to the therapies as differing from current scientific knowledge or instruction at veterinary colleges.
- Revisions to recognize more fully credentialing of veterinary technicians and technologists.
- Clarification of the definitions of “direct supervision” and “indirect supervision” to specify that a veterinarian is responsible for the care of a patient provided by a person working under the veterinarian’s direction.
- New exemption to allow a veterinarian from one state to practice temporarily in another state following a declaration of emergency.
- New exemption to allow a person working under the supervision of a veterinarian to provide certain medical care in an animal shelter.
- Revisions to allow a veterinarian to disclose client and patient information to a third-party service provider, or for research, or for the veterinarian’s own treatment, payment or veterinary care operations.
- Commentary that veterinarians should document owner consent in the medical record and obtain the client’s signature whenever possible.
- Commentary that, while the model practice act provides for veterinarians to request assistance from nonveterinary animal health professionals, the provision does not preclude states from requiring that nonveterinary animal health professionals be subject to veterinary oversight such as supervision or referral by a veterinarian.
Reserved for further development are Sections 2-22 and 5, dealing with the definition and scope of the “veterinarian-client-patient-relationship.” A working group has drafted proposed changes to these sections, which are open for comment by AVMA members and entities until March 1, 2012 at http://www.avma.org/issues/policy/mvpa_vcpr-comments.asp.