Laws on Quality of Service in Veterinary Medicine

Laws on Quality of Service in Veterinary Medicine
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  • 0:01 Professional Licenses
  • 0:43 Veterinary Practice Acts
  • 2:24 Common Law
  • 3:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will cover the two important types of law that govern quality of service in veterinary medicine as well as what four things must be proven to hold a veterinarian accountable for malpractice.

Professional Licenses

It seems to me that almost every profession has a regulatory agency or body that licenses a professional. Everyone from doctors to mechanics can and may need to legally be licensed to perform their job. The reason we license professionals is many-dimensional. But one of the most important reasons is to maintain quality of service. You wouldn't want to allow a mechanic to practice medicine without a license, and you may not want a doctor fiddling with your precious car either.

Let's take a look at the laws that govern quality of service in veterinary medicine and how they can be a bit nuanced.

Veterinary Practice Acts

The big kahuna of a law that governs quality of service in veterinary medicine is called the Veterinary Practice Act. Each state's Veterinary Practice Act is a legal document that helps safeguard the public against the improper practice of veterinary medicine. Improper practice can obviously lead to bad quality of service, and this is one reason why such an act is enacted in every state.

When it comes to quality of service, the Veterinary Practice Act basically says that it is illegal to practice veterinary medicine without a license. And by license, I obviously mean a license in veterinary medicine. This means mechanics, human doctors, or anyone else that carries a license for their profession only is not allowed to diagnose, treat, or prescribe medication for an animal. Similarly, the practice act outlines when a veterinarian's license can be revoked, which penalties can be given out for improper conduct, and so forth.

Now, all of what I just said raises the question of the roles of veterinary technicians and assistants. Technically, only a veterinarian can diagnose and treat an animal under such a rule. But you'll find out in practice that plenty of skilled technicians and assistants perform or help perform minor treatment procedures.

So, what gives? Is that kind of work illegal? Well, so long as a veterinary staff member is performing procedures that fall under the guise of practicing veterinary medicine but they do so under the direction and supervision of a veterinarian, then it's not illegal and they are allowed to treat those animals in a manner outlined to them by a veterinarian.

Common Law

Knowing this, it's not hard to see that a veterinarian bears the ultimate responsibility over a patient even if he is not physically performing a task he delegated to a nurse.

Let's say that a veterinarian tells a veterinary technician to give a certain medication to a dog, and she accidentally gives the wrong one and it ends up causing the dog's death. In such a scenario, the veterinarian can be found guilty of malpractice even if he wasn't the one who administered the ultimately fatal drug.

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