If your veterinary patients include any food animal species – even those kept as pets – the AVMA PLIT has tips to help you avoid potential liability issues related to the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rules taking effect on January 1, 2017.
PLIT issued a “risk assessment alert” last week to help its policyholders understand the possible veterinary liability issues stemming from the VFD rule, which will change labeling and usage rules for medically important antibiotics – i.e., those antibiotics deemed important to treating human disease – used in feed and water.
"Widespread, significantly increased liability is not foreseen" as a result of the VFD changes, but veterinarians would still do well to take simple steps to reduce their risk, PLIT said in the VFD alert sent to its policyholders. “Remember some of the basic risk mitigation steps that are applicable anytime a veterinarian is involved in the diagnosis and treatment of patients," PLIT advised. These include:
- Issue orders, prescriptions, or VFDs, in the context of a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) as required by federal and/or state authorities where you are licensed.
- Maintain clear and complete records supporting your diagnosis, treatment decisions, and the establishment of a VCPR.
- Fill out prescription or VFD orders correctly and accurately.
The VFD risk assessment alert also offers 11 specific tips to help veterinarians avoid liability risk when writing VFD orders, and also addresses questions about possible liability related to environmental issues.
The new VFD rule will regulate how medically important antibiotics — medications that are important for treating human disease — can be administered to animals in feed and drinking water. Among its provisions, it will require veterinary oversight whenever such antibiotics are administered to any food animal species via feed or water, even if the animals are not intended for food production.
The AVMA has developed resources to help our members understand and comply with the new VFD rule, including a fillable form for issuing VFD orders.