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What Happens When Vets Give Advice Remotely?


Florida veterinarians with decades of experience have tons of knowledge to give pet owners. With technology so prevalent nowadays, they may find it a good idea to give advice online. And with many pet owners leading busy lives or living in remote locations where veterinarians are scarce,  they may turn to online resources for quick answers. Plus, a remote consultation is often considerably less expensive, saving time and money.

However, while telemedicine is a growing field, the laws regarding veterinarian-pet consultations are considerably stricter when it comes to the veterinarian field. Under the laws set forth by the veterinary board in each state, Florida veterinary professionals are not allowed to dispense medical advice to pet owners remotely, without an in-person consultation. Those who do so can face punishment and even lose their license.

A Vet and His Court Battle

A Texas veterinarian became disabled in 2002 and decided to retire after 30 years. He still wanted to be involved in pet care, though, and started his own website called 2ndchance.info. There, he created and posted articles about pet care and health issues. The site was popular, with many readers contacting him personally for advice. He starting responding to inquiries via phone and email and began charging $58 for this service in 2003.

In 2012, he received notice from the state veterinary board that what he doing was illegal. He was violating a rule that stated he must examine every animal in person. The veterinarian-client-patient relationships could not be conducted solely via a telephone or electronic device.

He stopped his service right away, but still faced punishment. His veterinary license was suspended for one year. He was fined $500 and forced to retake the legal portion of the veterinary licensing exam.

The vet fought back, though, and filed a lawsuit the following year, claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated. After all, veterinarians write and publish books about medical care. Why was what the vet was doing any different?

The board dismissed his case after it was determined that the vet was acting in a professional manner. He had never harmed or mistreated any of the animals and he never prescribed medication. He was highly experienced in his field and truly wanted to help others care for their pets.

Telemedicine Debate

There is a huge debate over online medicine, also known as telemedicine. There are legal issues to contend with, and the veterinary field is no exception. All states are in agreement about what constitutes an appropriate relationship between a veterinarian and a client. There is a high risk of incompetency, with pet owners receiving erroneous information that can harm or even kill their pets.

Keep Your License with Help From a Tampa Veterinary Licensing Lawyer 

Many people find it difficult to afford medical care for themselves or their pets. Therefore, they may turn to online resources, which are considerably less expensive but not necessarily legal. Vets who give medical advice online without seeing the pet in person can lose their license.

If you are in this situation, seek legal representation from the Law Offices of David P. Rankin, P.A. I am a Tampa administrative lawyer who focuses on licensing issues for veterinarians and other licensed professionals. For a free consultation, contact my office today by calling (813) 968-6633.