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Board Oks expanded RVT duties
Santa Monica, Calif. - California's registered veterinary technicians (RVT) are one step closer to holding license to perform small skin incisions to place intravascular catheters.
SANTA MONICA, CALIF. — California's registered veterinary technicians (RVT) are one step closer to holding license to perform small skin incisions to place intravascular catheters.
The language technically terms it a "relief hole," and on April 28, the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) approved the new duty following a public hearing featuring roughly two-dozen DVM protests.
A green light from the Department of Consumer Affairs' legal counsel and Office of Administrative Law (OAL) could make California the nation's first state to allow RVTs to incise the skin. Before that happens, California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) officials promise a battle to derail the measure. While proponents for increasing RVT duties consider adding jobs tasks a step toward mirroring human medicine's team model, critics deem the expansion dangerous to animal health and the veterinary profession.
Any incision, regardless of terminology, is surgery and strictly the practice of veterinary medicine, argues CVMA. To change that distinction, the state's veterinary practice act must be changed legislatively, not at the regulatory level, President Dr. Eric Weigand says.
"Our feeling is that the board has overstepped its boundaries; they've lost site of their charter, which is to protect the public in California," he says. "Before this becomes implemented, it must go through legislative council and administrative review, where we plan to challenge it."
CVMB Executive Secretary Sue Geranen says the board is prepared to meet that threat. Legal counsel, she says, has authorized CVMB to determine what constitutes surgery because it's not defined in the practice act.
Contention surfaces as nearly 30 veterinarians file in to hear the California Veterinary Medical Board (CVMB) hash out proposals to expand job tasks for registered veterinary technicians (RVT). While Dr. Richard Johnson (left) favors adding technician duties, the proposed plan triggered an estimated 800 opposition letters. CVMB legal counsel Gary Duke advises Executive Secretary Sue Geranen (center) on the board's authority to make the ultimate decision.
"CVMA has one opinion and so does our legal counsel," she says. "So we'll see which one the OAL accepts."
If the OAL signs off on the measure, it goes to the California Secretary of State's office for adoption and takes effect in 30 days.
Left on the table
Such changes proposed by the board's Registered Veterinary Technician Committee (RVTC) aren't tolerated well by many in the veterinary community, officials report. The relief hole action was the only task CVMB passed of several brought for consideration, and the board confirms it received roughly 800 opposition letters from DVM licensees across the state.
Following hearing protests, the licensing board tabled measures to restrict the maintenance and monitoring of anesthesia as well as the administration of intravenous cytotoxic antineoplastic chemotherapy drugs to RVTs and DVMs. A third proposal to only allow RVTs and DVMs to administer injectable narcotics under indirect supervision also was put off for further review.
Such additional authority could have raised RVT earning potential, RVTC members say. The higher salaries likely would translate to increased recruitment, retention and career satisfaction levels in a state with little more than half the number of licensed technicians as veterinarians, members add.
"Why can't veterinarian's see how critical this is to the consumer?" asks RVTC Chairman Richard Johnson, DVM. "This legitimizes RVTs."
Back to the drawing board
For the time being, the remaining proposals are not on the brink of passing. Because they were taken out of the April 28 regulatory package passed by CVMB, they won't be reconsidered until the board's next meeting July 19. If a new package is pushed, it must again go before the public for a hearing in October. The entire process starts over.
That gives CVMB members time to research how chemotherapy drugs are handled in the human market and whether there should be a certification or training process implemented in veterinary medicine. Language also will be clarified in the anesthesia model as CVMB studies what's currently happening in the profession regarding narcotics administration.
"This last package was a good one; it was pretty well thought out," Geranen says. "But the board decided it needed more information. That doesn't mean these issues won't reappear on a future agenda."