The newest iteration of the “Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics” was approved by the AVMA House of Delegates during its recent meeting. The AVMA Judicial Council modeled this version after the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics. The document has been revised for clarity and reformatted into three sections; it features the following eight overarching principles. After objections from some delegates in July 2014, the council reversed a recommendation to replace many instances of the word “should” with “shall” in the supporting annotations. The principles can be read in their entirety here.
I. A veterinarian shall be dedicated to providing competent veterinary medical care, with compassion and respect for animal welfare and human health.
II. A veterinarian shall provide veterinary medical clinical care under the terms of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR).
III. A veterinarian shall uphold the standards of professionalism, be honest in all professional interactions, and report veterinarians who are deficient in character or competence to the appropriate entities.
IV. A veterinarian shall respect the law and also recognize a responsibility to seek changes to laws and regulations which are contrary to the best interests of the patient and public health.
V. A veterinarian shall respect the rights of clients, colleagues, and other health professionals, and shall safeguard medical information within the confines of the law.
VI. A veterinarian shall continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowledge, maintain a commitment to veterinary medical education, make relevant information available to clients, colleagues, the public, and obtain consultation or referral when indicated.
VII. 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.
VIII. A veterinarian shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health.