State Summary Report

 Confidentiality of veterinary patient records

Updated March 2014

This is a summary of statutory and regulatory provisions that AVMA research has found addressing the release of veterinary records.  


State Provision Requires Client Authorization to Release, with Exceptions
AK Requires consent unless the release is necessary for medical, statistical, or public health purposes. Yes
CA Prohibits disclosure of records unless client consent, court order or subpoena or compliance with state or federal law. Sharing medical information between veterinarians or facilities is allowed for treatment or diagnosis. Disclosure of records is also allowed when a client files a civil or criminal complaint that places the veterinarian's care at issue. There are criminal penalties for an unauthorized release of records. The section states that it shall not interfere with the sharing of veterinary medical information between veterinarians, peace officers, and humane society officers.

The law also provides that a summary of an animal's medical records shall be made available to the client within five (5) days or sooner, depending on the condition of the animal, upon his or her request. 

CO The client may have a copy of records or a summary, and a reasonable fee may be charged for records. Where a veterinary-patient-client privilege exists, the records are not available to the public. Yes
DE Veterinary records may be shared when required by law, subpoena, or court order or to protect the health and welfare of individuals or animals. Veterinary medical information may also be shared between veterinarians or facilities for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of animals or between veterinarians and peace officers humane society officers, or animal control officers who are acting to protect the welfare of individuals or animals. NA
FL Records are confidential and may not be furnished to any person other than the client, his/her legal representative or other veterinarians involved in the care or treatment of the patient, without written authorization. Several exceptions exist, including exceptions for a subpoena from a court of competent jurisdiction with proper notice, statistical and scientific research (provided the information is de-identified), a medical negligence action or administrative proceeding, and disciplinary actions against veterinarians. Yes
GA Public disclosure shall not be required for medical or veterinary records and similar files, the disclosure of which would be an invasion of personal privacy. NA
HI Information within veterinary medical records is considered privileged and confidential. It must not be released except by court order or consent of the owner of the patient. Veterinarians are obligated to provide copies or summaries of medical records when requested by the client. Veterinarians should secure a written release to document that request. Without the express permission of the practice owner, it is unethical for a veterinarian to remove, copy, or use the medical records or any part of any record.

(From AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, Section VIII, adopted in Hawaii Veterinary Practice Act, §471-10)
ID Records may be released to the owner or another veterinarian upon written request of the owner. Yes
IL No veterinarian shall be required to disclose any information concerning the veterinarian's care of an animal except on written authorization or other waiver by the veterinarian's client or on appropriate court order or subpoena. Any veterinarian releasing information under written authorization, other waiver by the client, or court order of subpoena is not liable to the client or any other person. This privilege is waived to the extent that the veterinarian's client or the owner of the animal places the care and treatment or the nature and extent of injuries to the animal at issue in any civil or criminal proceeding. When communicable disease laws, cruelty to animal laws, or laws providing for public health and safety are involved, the privilege provided by this Section is waived. Copies of patient records must be released to the client upon written request. Yes

An animal's veterinary medical record and medical condition is confidential and may not be furnished to or discussed with any person other than the client or other veterinarians involved in the care or treatment of the animal without written authorization of the client with the following exceptions:

An animal's veterinary medical records and medical condition must be furnished within five (5) business days without written client authorization under the following circumstances:
(1) Access to the records is specifically required by a state or federal statute.
(2) An order by a court with jurisdiction in a civil or criminal action upon the court's issuance of a subpoena and notice to the client or the client's legal representative.
(3) As part of an inspection or investigation conducted by the board or an agent of the board.
(4) As part of a request from a regulatory or health authority, physician, or veterinarian:
   (A) to verify a rabies vaccination of an animal; or
   (B) to investigate a threat to human or animal health, or for the protection of animal or public health and welfare.
(5) As a part of an animal cruelty report and associated applicable records that are part of an abuse investigation by law enforcement or a governmental agency.
(6) To a law enforcement agency as part of a criminal

An animal's veterinary medical records and medical
condition may be furnished without written client authorization under the following circumstances:
(1) To the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue
University, the animal disease diagnostic laboratory, or a state agency or commission. However, an animal's veterinary medical records remain confidential unless the information is disclosed in a manner allowed under this section.
(2) Veterinary medical records that are released by the board of animal health when in the judgment of the state veterinarian the disclosure is necessary or helpful in advancing animal health or protecting public health.
(3) For statistical and scientific research, if the information is abstracted in a way as to protect the identity of the animal and the client.

KS Written client consent or other waiver required in order to disclose information. No consent required if pursuant to a subpoena, court order, civil or criminal proceeding against veterinarian, or investigation by the board. Yes
KY A veterinarian may not release information concerning a client or care of a client's animal, except on the veterinarian's receipt of a written authorization or other form of waiver executed by the client or an appropriate court order or subpoena. The privilege is waived by the client or the owner of an animal treated by the veterinarian to the extent the client or owner places at issue in a civil or criminal proceeding: the nature and extent of the animal's injuries or the care and treatment of the animal provided by the veterinarian. It also does not apply during an inspection or investigations conducted by the board, or to the veterinary reporting requirements and regulatory authority of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to inspect, investigate, and supervise horses and other participants in horse racing. Yes
LA A veterinarian shall not release records to any person other than the client or a person authorized to receive the records for the client. A reasonable fee may be charged. Yes
MD A veterinarian shall temporarily release to a subsequent treating veterinarian the original non-written record of the animal upon request by the animal owner. The subsequent treating veterinarian must return the records within 30 days of their receipt or such other time as agreed to by the parties. Yes
MA Upon the request of the owner, a veterinarian shall provide copies of medical records and radiographs to the owner of an animal or to another veterinarian. A reasonable fee may be charged. Yes
MN Veterinary records are generally not subject to public inspection if maintained by a state agency, statewide system, or political subdivision.
Medical records, or an accurate summary, must be released to the animal owner or the owner's authorized agent, within two weeks of a written request. A reasonable charge for copying or preparation of a summary is allowed.
MS Disclosure only with permission, by court order, or pursuant to a subpoena.
Consent not required if information is released to state, local or federal agencies or civil or criminal proceedings against veterinarian.
MO Veterinarians shall not reveal confidential, proprietary or privileged facts or data or any other sensitive information contained in a patient's medical records or as otherwise obtained in a professional capacity without the prior consent of the client except as otherwise authorized or required by Chapter 340, RSMo, lawful rules as promulgated by the board, a court order or any other state or federal law, or a regulation. Yes
​NE ​A veterinarian is not required to release patient records unless with written permission from the client except in circumstances of required disease reporting or a subpoena or court order. A veterinarian who releases information under these circumstances is not liable to the client or any other person unless the veterinarian's care and treatment of the animal, or the nature and extent of injuries to the animal, becomes the subject of any civil or criminal proceeding.   ​Yes
NV Medical records must be available for inspection by the owner of the animal during normal business hours for at least 5 days each week and the licensed veterinarian shall provide a copy of those records to the owner of the animal receiving veterinary services not later than 48 hours after he/she receives a request from the owner of the animal. This does not include radiographs or other diagnostic images. A radiograph or other diagnostic image may be released to the owner of the animal. A radiograph or other diagnostic image must be released within 48 hours after the request is made to another veterinarian who has the authorization of the owner of the animal to which it pertains. The radiograph or other diagnostic image must be returned within a reasonable time to the veterinarian to whom it belongs. Yes
NH Veterinarians must comply with any request by an animals' owner for a copy of their medical records. A minimal fee may be charged. Yes
NJ A licensed veterinarian shall keep records confidential unless the veterinarian is required by law to release the records, or upon Board request, or upon client authorization at the time services were rendered, or it becomes necessary to release information to protect the health of a person or animal. Yes
NM Copies of records or a summary of records must be made available within ten working days upon the client's request. Yes
NY Records may be disclosed (1) upon written request of owner and a fee may be charged, (2) when a veterinarian suspects and is reporting animal cruelty, abuse or neglect, or (3) when a veterinarian reasonably believes disclosure is necessary to protect the health or welfare of the animal, a person, or the public. Yes
OH Records shall be released upon request from a subsequent treating veterinarian and must be returned to the originating practice within a reasonable time. Copies of records must also be available upon request from the owner of an animal at a reasonable cost to the owner. No
OK Client is entitled to copies in specified time period, and fees may be charged. Written authorization or waiver is required for record release, unless pursuant to a civil or criminal suit against veterinarian, court order, subpoena, or as required by state, local or federal government. Yes
PA Board investigations requesting patient records require the consent of client or a court order. Allows release of information to client with a fee. Any portion of a veterinary medical record relevant to public health shall be released to public health or law enforcement officials upon demand. Veterinary medical records shall be released to the general public only with the written consent of the client, subpoena or court order. Yes
RI Veterinarians must provide a summary of records to the owner or another veterinarian upon written request of the owner. Yes
TN Health certificates issued by the state veterinarian are confidential and not open to public inspection. Records must be released to client and a fee may be charged. NA
TX A veterinarian may not violate the confidential relationship between the veterinarian and the client. A veterinarian is not required to release information on an animal unless he/she receives written consent from the client or a court order or subpoena. Yes
UT Records may be released upon the receipt of written consent from a client. Veterinarians must disclose records 1) to public health officials, animal health or welfare officials, agricultural authorities, or federal, state or local officials when they deem necessary to protect the animal or to protect public health, 2) when required by court order or subpoena, or 3) when the client has made the veterinarian's care or treatment an issue in civil or criminal proceedings. Yes
WA Medical records and medical images are the property of the veterinarian or veterinary facility that originally ordered their preparation, and may be released upon request by the owner or authorized agent. Upon request by the owner or authorized agent, copies of records will be made available as promptly as required by medical necessity or public health circumstances, but no later than 10 working days upon the owner or authorized agent's request. The veterinarian may charge copying fees as set forth in WAC 246-08-400. Medical images shall be released upon request of another veterinarian who has authorization of the owner or authorized agent of the animal to which it pertains, but the medical image shall be returned within 10 working days following receipt of a written request from the originating veterinarian. Costs of copying the medical image may be charged. Yes
​WV ​Records are the responsibility and property of the owner of the facility or the veterinarian. ​No
WI An owner or any other person with informed written consent of the owner may obtain a copy of the animal patient's health care records upon payment of reasonable costs Yes
WY Records shall be released to the client or the Board within 2 weeks of a written request. A reasonable charge may be required for copying or preparing records. Yes

Source:   Staff research, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Department
Contact:  Tara Southwell, State Policy Analyst, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Department, 847-285-6779.