Board revises acclimation certificates, other forms

Published on May 01, 2006
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Cat and transport carrierThe interest of veterinarians in practicing medicine while avoiding professional liability claims led the Executive Board to revise several suggested client forms—and to add a waiver form.

On recommendation from the Council on Veterinary Service, the board approved several changes to the Guidelines on Acclimation Certificates, Standard Consent Form, Model Euthanasia Authorization, and Position on Certificates of Veterinary Inspection. The board also adopted a form for the Waiver of Treatment(s) or Test(s).

Acclimation certificates for the transportation of pet animals have been a longstanding source of anxiety for veterinarians. The board approved revising the Guidelines on Acclimation Certificates to state that veterinarians should specify a temperature range acceptable for animals during transport.

Veterinarians should provide an acclimation certificate only as an attachment to a certificate of veterinary inspection, also known as a health certificate. They should word the acclimation certificate as follows:

"The animal(s) in this shipment appear healthy for transport but need(s) to be maintained at a range of ambient temperatures within the individual animal's thermoneutral zone which include a specific range of temperatures to which the animal(s) has/have been acclimated, as determined in consultation with the owner/authorized agent to be no lower than (X degrees) F and no higher than (Y degrees) F (not to exceed 85 F) for no longer than (Z) minutes."

A professional liability claim against an AVMA member was what led to the review of all forms that agents may sign if they are acting on behalf of an animal's owner. The case arose from a practice common at boarding facilities, racetracks, and stables for agents to approve treatment for an animal—generally upon verbal agreement with the owner.

The new Standard Consent Form and Model Euthanasia Authorization emphasize that agents must have the authorization of the owner to consent to a particular procedure, operation, or euthanasia. The Council on Veterinary Service drafted the Waiver of Treatment(s) or Test(s) as an addition to the Standard Consent Form.

Concerns from the Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee led to changes to the Position on Certificates of Veterinary Inspection. The government has proposed allowing individuals who are not veterinarians to sign health certificates for aquatic animals.

The new position attempts to clarify the principles for veterinarians conducting examinations with several sentences about appropriate animal observation, identification, and records. It reads as follows:

Position on Certificates of Veterinary Inspection

Accredited veterinarians are responsible for the accuracy and completeness of all certificates of veterinary inspection that they issue. Only those matters within their own knowledge and/or observation should be certified. Identification of animals or products that are subjects of certification should be comprehensive. Records must be retained according to statutes.