Model practice act referred, bylaws amendments passed

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Some AVMA HOD members
The AVMA House of Delegates deliberated on bylaws amendments and other proposals during its regular winter session, Jan. 11-12, in Chicago. (Photo by Sara Beugen/Shoot My Events)

The AVMA House of Delegates referred revisions to the AVMA Model Veterinary Practice Act back to the AVMA Board of Directors to respond to concerns raised by some state VMAs. During the HOD's regular winter session, Jan. 11-12 in Chicago, delegates also passed amendments to the AVMA Bylaws that sunset the AVMA Judicial Council and changed the requirements for constituent allied veterinary organizations to gain and maintain representation in the House.

The model practice act is a set of guiding principles for regulating the practice of veterinary medicine within the states.

The California VMA raised a concern about adding the phrase "and ethically provided" to the statement in the preamble that the purpose of the act is "to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public and animals by ensuring the delivery of competent and ethically provided veterinary medical care." The concern is that the phrase would be open to a wide range of interpretations in court.

The Georgia VMA argued that revisions to the model practice act could expose veterinarians to new liability claims by establishing obligations for veterinarians beyond the existing standard of care and scope of practice.

Delegates approved referring the model practice act back to the Board for consideration of suggestions from the House.

While sunsetting the Judicial Council, delegates also approved a revised process for disciplinary actions against AVMA members and a new process for advising on questions of veterinary ethics. An ad hoc hearing panel will adjudicate complaints against members in the infrequent occurrence of disciplinary hearings. And a panel of AVMA members will be selected to consider a request from members or others for an advisory opinion on questions relating to the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics.

Delegates eased eligibility requirements for constituent allied veterinary organizations in the House and removed differentiation between allied organizations represented since July 8, 1995, and those accepted afterward. To maintain representation, an organization's U.S.-resident voting membership must now include at least 300 AVMA members. Furthermore, the organization's percentage of U.S.-resident members who are AVMA members must exceed the percentage of U.S.-resident veterinarians who are AVMA members, about 75 percent as of Feb. 1.

Alternatively, at least 350 of the organization's U.S.-resident members must be AVMA members.

Delegates also approved a bylaws amendment strengthening requirements for a constituent allied veterinary organization to gain representation in the House. The organization's mission and purpose must be aligned with the mission and purpose of the AVMA, and the organization must support the mission and purpose of the AVMA. Approval of an application will require a two-thirds vote by the House.

The other bylaws amendments are as follows:

  • Adding a credentialed veterinary technician to the composition of the AVMA Council on Veterinary Service.
  • Changing the name of the AVMA Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine to the AVMA Council on Public Health.
  • Revising the composition of the AVMA Council on Public Health, historically comprising primarily government employees, to encourage applications from well-qualified veterinarians in other areas of veterinary medicine.
  • Removing an obsolete statement of responsibility for the AVMA Council on Research to advise the Board of Directors regarding the American Journal of Veterinary Research.
  • Removing an obsolete statement of responsibility for the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents to advise the AVMA journals as to the acceptability of advertising regarding biologic and therapeutic agents.

Related JAVMA content:

Updated model practice act goes to HOD (Nov. 1, 2018)

Amendment would allow leeway for allied groups (July 1, 2017)