Ethics in Veterinary Medicine

Ethics in Veterinary Medicine
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  • 0:01 Ethics in Veterinary Medicine
  • 0:40 What Are Ethics & Morals?
  • 1:47 Unethical Behavior
  • 3:05 The Importance of Ethics
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will go over the definition of ethics and morals, what major organizations set the standard for patient care and ethics in veterinary medicine, and what are some of the unethical behaviors encountered in veterinary medicine.

Ethics in Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Dan Druff has a PhD in Art History. He's an excellent art professor, and one of his hobbies is breeding dogs. Many of his neighbors, who call him Dr. Druff and don't know his educational background, have pets that they got from him.

Dr. Druff is so passionate about dogs that he regularly advises his clients as to what medication they should give their dogs and when. Since Dr. Duff is just trying his best to help, are his actions ethical or unethical? By the end of this lesson, you'll be able to answer both of those questions as we look at ethics in veterinary medicine.

What Are Ethics & Morals?

Ethics are rules and standards that govern proper conduct based on what is considered to be morally good or bad. A moral is simply of, or relating to, what a person believes is right or wrong.

It is the AVMA, the American Veterinary Medical Association, that sets the standards for veterinary medicine in general, veterinary medical ethics, and the quality of care veterinarians should provide to their patients and their clients.

NAVTA, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, contributes to setting the standards of care and ethics specifically for veterinary technicians and technologists.

AAHA, the American Animal Hospital Association, sets additional standards for small animal practices.

Regardless of who sets what, you must remember that the first and most important responsibility in veterinary medicine is putting the needs of the patient first in order to relieve any suffering or pain they may be experiencing. Not fulfilling this one obligation is considered to be highly unethical.

Unethical Behavior

Of course, there are plenty of other unethical things that can occur in veterinary medicine. This includes:

  • Practicing below the standards of patient care
  • Diagnosing, treating, or prescribing without a valid veterinary-client-patient-relationship
  • Abusing drugs
  • Abusing or neglecting patients
  • Using slander (that is to say speaking poorly of other veterinary professionals)
  • Violating confidentiality by improperly divulging medical records except as medically necessary between appropriate staff. Medical records are the property of the veterinary facility only. However, clients are allowed copies of medical records and can request the transfer of medical records with written permission.

Another very unethical thing is misrepresentation. Dr. Druff, although a PhD, is not actually a veterinary medical doctor. By using his title to deceive unsuspecting people in order to indulge his fantasy of treating animals, he is being highly unethical.

Although Dr. Druff may be well-meaning in his desire to help animals, he fails to realize that medicine is not so much about knowing what to do when everything is okay; it's more about knowing what to do when the poop hits the fan.

The Importance of Ethics

Veterinary ethics is no laughing matter. If you are unable to take it seriously, there is no point in going into this profession.

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