The Veterinarian's & Veterinary Technician's Codes of Ethics

The Veterinarian's & Veterinary Technician's Codes of Ethics
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  • 0:00 Codes of Ethics
  • 0:46 Veterinarian's Code of Ethics
  • 3:11 Technician's Code of Ethics
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will go over some common and important principles found in the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics and Veterinary Technician Code of Ethics.

Codes of Ethics

Everyone who works with animals in the veterinary world must be an ethical person. Ethics are rules and standards that govern proper conduct based on what is considered to be morally good or bad. This is even truer for veterinarians and veterinary technicians (or nurses). In fact, both have specific ethical standards that must be upheld.

A veterinarian's code of ethics is called the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics (PVME), and a veterinary nurse's code of ethics is called the Veterinary Technician Code of Ethics. Let's take a look at some important points in each as they are written in the codes of ethics themselves.

A Veterinarian's Code of Ethics

One of the principles of veterinary medical ethics in the PVME reads: ''A veterinarian shall be dedicated to providing competent veterinary medical care, with compassion and respect for animal welfare and human health.'' This statement encompasses far more than meets the eye. Yes, it means a veterinarian should consider the needs of the patient first in order to relieve their suffering. But there's much more.

For instance, a veterinarian's duty to uphold animal welfare goes beyond just treating the patient. It also involves looking into the future. Let's say that an animal comes in with a genetic defect. A genetic defect is something that can be passed onto offspring. It would be unethical for a veterinarian to not correct a genetic defect if the defect causes the patient harm. However, it would also mean that, ethically, it is the veterinarian's duty to ensure the animal cannot reproduce so no further animals (its offspring) will suffer from the same genetic defect.

Another principle of veterinary medical ethics as stated in the PVME is: ''A veterinarian shall, in the provision of appropriate patient care, except in emergencies, be free to choose whom to serve, with whom to associate, and the environment in which to provide veterinary medical care.''

Again, some things about this ethical standard are obvious and others not so much. It's obvious that a veterinarian can choose whether or not to serve a client and their pet. But when it comes to emergencies, veterinarians have an ethical duty to provide at least minimal essential services to an animal in order to relieve the animal's suffering after an agreement with a client is made or until such an agreement can be made if no client is present.

A word of caution, however. This does not mean you can drop off an animal in an emergency situation near a clinic and expect free life-saving treatment just because you left the animal and ran away. Depending on circumstances, the minimal essential services can include euthanasia to relieve suffering, which means you'd lose your pet. In other cases, the animal will legally become the property of the veterinarian, and they are under no obligation to give the animal back, especially if payment for the services rendered to save the animal's life isn't made.

The Veterinary Technician's Code of Ethics

Let's turn our attention to the Veterinary Technician Code of Ethics.

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