House of Delegates wrap-up, July 2015

Note: a separate blog post provides the outcome of the accreditation-related resolutions.

The AVMA House of Delegates (HOD) held its annual meeting on Thursday and Friday, July 9-10, 2015. The HOD took action on three proposed bylaws amendments and eight resolutions.

The following proposed bylaws amendments were approved:

  • #3-2015, Board of Directors, which changes the term of AVMA Board of Directors (BOD) members from 4 years to 6 years. This was approved by an 86.4% majority.
  • #4-2015, Council on Research, which expands the 2 positions representing academic veterinary medicine to include individuals heading either Departments of Comparative Medicine or Veterinary Sciences .This was approved on the consent agenda.
  • #5-2015, Board of Governors, which expands the Board of Governors (BOG) to include the Immediate Past President and BOD Vice Chair in addition to the existing BOG members, which are the President, President-Elect and BOD Chair. This was approved with a 99.7% majority.

Resolution 7-2015, Revised Policy on Use of Random-Source Dogs and Cats for Research, Testing and Education was approved by unanimous vote. This resolution revises the existing policy to emphasize the importance of ensuring the good welfare of random-source dogs and cats used for research, testing and education; clearly acknowledge that scientific justification is required to support their use; and encourage options for acquisition beyond Class B dealers.

Resolution 8-2015, Policy on Veterinary Pharmacology Education for Pharmacists generated a moderate amount of discussion in the HOD. The resolution as introduced would adopt a policy that would advocate for education of pharmacists regarding veterinary pharmacology in order to protect pet health and reduce errors. Perspectives provided included concerns that educating pharmacists in veterinary pharmacology will cede too much control to pharmacists and reduce the veterinarians’ role in animal prescriptions; although the state veterinary associations have received plenty of complaints about pharmacy errors, the pharmacy boards are claiming they have received none; and pharmacists’ filling of prescriptions is not going away, so we need to educate them to avoid errors that could harm pets. In the end, the HOD voted to refer the resolution back to the BOD (with a 74.8% majority in favor of referral) for revision based on feedback. It was suggested that two separate policies be developed; one on enhancing communication, and one on education to reduce errors.

Resolution 9-2015, Revised Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics (PVME), also generated moderate discussion. This resolution would provide revisions to the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics in response to concerns expressed by AVMA legal counsel and other considerations regarding perceived anti-competitive intent. Perspectives provided included concerns that removal of items diii and dv in section VI would remove the definition of referral; that the PVME should be revised further to address the ethical duty of a veterinarian to provide service without discrimination against any of the protected classes as well as LGBTQ and gender identity; that existing (non-revised) content puts veterinarians in the role of “playing cop” or result in adversarial relationships between colleagues; and that the revisions of section VI should be revised to focus on communication. The HOD was reminded that the PVME is a living document, revised as necessary to reflect important issues, and that deferring action at this time would result in a delay until next January, when the HOD meets again.  The HOD voted to refer the proposed changes back to the BOD to address the concerns, with a narrow margin (51.5% in favor of referral).

Resolution 10-2015, Voting Transparency, was another resolution that generated a moderate amount of discussion. This resolution would allow all AVMA members to know how HOD representatives voted on all issues. This resolution was submitted by the New Hampshire VMA. The House Advisory Committee and Reference Committee 1 recommended a revision that retained secret balloting for elections. The HOD approved the proposed amendment, with 84.6% in favor. One delegate expressed concern that voting transparency will increase the risk of “holding grudges” about HOD decisions, and there was concern expressed during the reference committee meeting that members of the HOD might be targeted for their decisions on controversial issues. A member of the reference committee emphasized that if a situation arose where HOD members believed that the voting results could put members at risk, the bylaws allow for a confidential balloting process. Another delegate argued that transparency is paramount, and HOD members need to be transparent and accountable because they owe it to the membership. The HOD approved the resolution, with 86.1% in favor.

A separate blog post has been made to address the accreditation-related resolutions, which were #11-2015, #12-2015, #13-2015, and #14-2015 – the last of which was introduced on the HOD floor by Reference Committee 3.

The candidates for new AVMA officers were announced to the HOD, and are as follows:

President-Elect: Dr. Mike Topper and Dr. Jan Strother. The election will take place at the HOD Annual Session in August 2016 (associated with the AVMA Convention in San Antonio). Dr. Joe Kinnarney took the reins of the AVMA Presidency today, and Dr. Tom Meyer moved into the position of President-Elect; in 2016, Dr. Meyer will become President and the winner of this election will move into the President-Elect office.

Vice President: Dr . Stacy Pritt announced her candidacy for AVMA Vice President. She is running unopposed. She will be elected and take office during the 2016 Annual Session.

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