Policy discussions during the Nov. 20-22, 2014, meeting of the AVMA Board of Directors covered issues such as oversight of research, grievance resolution, and drug residues.
The board approved a few new policies, rescinded some that were no longer applicable, and reaffirmed or revised numerous others. The AVMA’s policies are available here.
Among the key actions were establishment of a policy on oversight of clinical studies that do not affect animal care, rescission of a policy on procedures for state VMAs to resolve grievances against veterinarians, and revision of a policy on illegal drug residues in food animals.
Members of the AVMA Board of Directors wear school colors during their November 2014 meeting at AVMA headquarters. The meeting occurred just after the online posting of the Dec. 1, 2014, JAVMA News article “Veterinarians stay true to their school” about veterinarians’ deep loyalty to their alma maters. Many members of the AVMA staff also wore school colors that day. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)
Oversight of research
On a recommendation from the Council on Research, the board approved a new policy on “Establishment and Use of Veterinary Clinical Studies Committees.”
According to background, at an April 2012 meeting, the COR had discussed oversight of research involving clinical trials of veterinary patients for which enrollment in the trial did not alter treatment or handling from that expected under current standards of care. An example would be an investigator looking at gene expression profiles in blood cells left over from routine complete blood counts. The COR was concerned that direct oversight by an institutional animal care and use committee is not the right fit for research that has no direct impact on the welfare of the animals being used. The COR proposed an AVMA policy outlining a committee under the IACUC for oversight of clinical research that does not alter the care enrolled animals would have otherwise received.
The board considered the proposal in June 2013 but asked for broader stakeholder input. The council convened a meeting in fall 2013 to gather input from leaders in the oversight of animal research, including representatives from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Agriculture, and Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International. Representatives of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee also attended the meeting and provided extensive input. The board approved the resulting policy.
In part, the policy states the following: “Animals undergoing standard-of-care treatment within a veterinarian-client-patient relationship that is not influenced by their involvement in a clinical study may be overseen by Veterinary Clinical Studies Committees (VCSC). The VCSC serves to ensure informed consent, and to protect animals from conflict of interest issues.”
Also according to the policy: “VCSC should be composed of veterinarians primarily involved in clinical practice, should work closely with the IACUC, and have at least one member who is a member of the IACUC to serve as a conduit between the two entities.”
On a recommendation from the Council on Veterinary Service, the board approved rescinding the Peer Review Procedure Manual. The manual provides procedures for state and local VMAs to implement peer review as a forum for resolving grievances against veterinarians.
The COVS reviewed the policy as part of the AVMA’s five-year review cycle. The council sought input from Dr. Janet Donlin, chief executive officer of the AVMA PLIT, which provides professional liability insurance, and from Isham Jones, AVMA in-house counsel. Dr. Donlin and Jones said statements and findings from peer review could result in difficulty defending veterinarians from subsequent legal action.
When reviewing the policy in 2009, the COVS asked the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives to survey members about peer review. According to the informal survey, many state VMAs did not use peer review or other forms of grievance resolution, and many had discontinued such processes because of liability concerns. Some state VMAs found such processes to be useful.
On a recommendation from the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents, the board revised a policy on illegal drug residues in food animals, “Veterinarian Notification of Violative Residues in Foods of Animal Origin.” The policy advocates for requiring producers of products with violative residues to identify their veterinarian to regulatory agencies and for the agencies to notify the veterinarian of the violation.
According to background, COBTA recommended revising the policy to support a separate effort by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners to ensure that veterinarians become aware of a client’s misuse of a prescribed or dispensed medication before repeated violative residues have occurred. The AVMA policy previously stated that public notification about violations generally should be limited to repeat violators, which is the current approach by regulators. The policy now recommends that public notification about all violators should occur 90 days after notice to the violator.