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Battle Continues Over Veterinary Telemedicine


While the coronavirus pandemic has allowed doctors to care for patients virtually via Zoom and similar video platforms, pets haven’t been allowed the same type of care. That’s because there have been issues with establishing a veterinarian-client relationship.

The current laws state that an in-person exam is needed first before any telemedicine in the veterinary field can commence. Each state is trying to create their own laws, with Florida and Nevada trying to loosen restrictions. Concern that California’s veterinary telemedicine laws are in violation of the U.S. Constitution have led to a lawsuit. Some companies want to run remote-only businesses so they want lawmakers to make changes. This battle is creating chaos and can lead to ethical issues and punishment for those who do not follow the rules.

COVID has led to all this panic. It has also caused concern about remote veterinary care. Since animals can’t tell us how they’re feeling the question at the forefront of the discussion is whether allowing the treatment of a pet without the veterinarian ever seeing the pet in person be in the public’s best interest.

The foundation of veterinary care is the veterinary-client-patient-relationship which is typically established after an in-person exam. This concept is, therefore, one of the foundations of the veterinary standards of care. This makes it unlawful for veterinarians to treat animals online without an in-person visit. The American Veterinary Medical Association is in agreement with this requirement but many state boards have taken the position that that position is too strict. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards promotes establishing online veterinary-client-patient-relationships.

The laws are not consistent. Lawmakers in Michigan repealed the need for an in-person veterinary exam. Indiana has confirmed that a hands-on exam is required for a veterinary-client-patient-relationship. North Carolina and Alaska are looking at similar restrictions.

Dutch Pet Controversy in Florida and Nevada

A new online pet platform called Dutch Pet is creating controversy in Florida and Nevada. The company promoted a bill that would have removed the in-person exam requirement to practice veterinary telemedicine. However, the bill did not make it to the Senate floor before April 30.

The Nevada Veterinary Medical Association also wants to change its laws. A proposed bill would  require a physical examination to establish a veterinary-client-patient-relationship. It would clarify the state board’s authority over telemedicine laws and authorize licensed veterinarians to engage in telemedicine with animals they have seen in person before.

Lawmakers feel an in-person exam is necessary for pets because animals cannot talk or express how they feel. Several veterinarians told stories about how animals try to hide illnesses and having an in-person exam is crucial for a pet’s health. Those veterinarians took the position that they can identify issues with in person exams that cannot be found remotely and by not being able to physically examine a pet, a veterinarian can miss many health issues—even fatal ones.

Keep Your License With Help From a Tampa Veterinarian Licensing Lawyer

As a veterinarian, you need to stay abreast of changes to laws. While physicians are adopting  telemedicine, state legislators are not allowing veterinarians to do so. Those who do can face punishment.

Tampa veterinarian licensing lawyer David P. Rankin can assist you with licensing issues. Get help with the processes so you can keep your license. Fill out the online form or call (813) 968-6633 to schedule a consultation.