Updates on state legislation for veterinary virtual care

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How legalized virtual veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) can change veterinary medicine

Image courtesy of The Bridge Club.

Image courtesy of The Bridge Club.

Veterinary virtual care has been expanding since the pandemic and beyond, however veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) standards and regulations have often been tricky to navigate in telemedicine. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) stated that a VCPR is present when all of the following requirements are met:1

  • The veterinarian has assumed responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the patient, and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarians' instructions.
  • The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the patient to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the patient’s medical condition. This means the veterinarian is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the patient by virtue of a timely examination of the patient by the veterinarian, or medically appropriate and timely visits by the veterinarian to the operation where the patient is managed.
  • The veterinarian is readily available for follow-up evaluation or has arranged for the following: veterinary emergency coverage, and continuing care and treatment.
  • The veterinarian provides oversight of treatment, compliance and outcome.
  • Patient records are maintained.

Governor Katie Hobbs signed into law today Senate Bill 1053 which will allow veterinarians licensed in Arizona to establish a VCPR through telemedicine. According to a news release,2 the law will also allow veterinarians to provide short-term, non-controlled substance prescriptions.

"Today is a landmark day for Arizona's most vulnerable pets and the owners who love them," said Steven Hansen, DVM, Arizona Humane Society President and CEO, in the release. "Last year alone, we saw a 13 percent increase in the number of animals that were surrendered to our shelter by their owners for medical reasons. Today, if you call our hospitals, the first available appointment is 6 weeks out. This new legislation helps to keep pets in loving homes and alleviate undue suffering."2

The Bridge Club is hosting a conversation on the latest news in veterinary virtual care and VCPRs on June 8, 2023 at 8PM EST.3 The conversation is virtual and free to all of veterinary medicine to participate in with support from Animal Policy Group. Those interested can sign up with the link: https://www.thebridgeclub.com/events/vcpr-and-other-telemedicine-legislative-updates

“The new Arizona law provides significant groundwork for other states” said Mark Cushing, CEO of Animal Policy Group, in the Bridge Club release. “The final amended version of the legislation was drafted by the American Veterinary Medical Association, passed almost unanimously, and included practical guardrails.”3

References

  1. Telehealth and the VCPR. American Veterinary Medical Association. Accessed May 15, 2023. https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/telehealth-telemedicine-veterinary-practice/telehealth-and-vcpr
  2. Arizona pets win as telemedicine bill is signed into law. News release. PRNewswire. Published May 9, 2023. Accessed May 15, 2023. https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/23/05/n32304044/arizona-pets-win-as-telemedicine-bill-is-signed-into-law
  3. Is the battle for virtual VCPRs over or is it just beginning? News release. The Bridge Club. May 15, 2023.
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