AVMA News

AVMA leaders to discuss model practice act, principles of ethics

June 30, 2022

The AVMA House of Delegates is set to discuss needed updates to the AVMA Model Veterinary Practice Act—possibly including updates related to license portability and veterinary technicians—and the responsibility to provide emergency care.

Those are the topics of the upcoming Veterinary Information Forum taking place during the regular annual session of the HOD, which will be held July 28-29 in Philadelphia in conjunction with AVMA Convention 2022. Delegates also will deliberate on new or revised AVMA policies on prescription drugs, reporting of adverse events, genetic modification of animals in agriculture, and the approval and availability of antimicrobials for food-producing animals.

Grey cat being treated for a broken leg
The AVMA House of Delegates will discuss challenges with the practical application of the language describing the responsibility to provide emergency care in annotations to the AVMA Principle of Veterinary Medical Ethics.

This spring, the AVMA Council on Veterinary Service initiated its scheduled review of the AVMA Model Veterinary Practice Act and the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. With veterinary workforce issues top of mind, the HOD will discuss how language in the act might be revised to better support license portability and whether the model practice act should provide more detail around the roles and supervision of veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants to support improved utilization of their skills and more consistency in credentialing across states.

Annotations to the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics indicate that, “In emergencies, veterinarians have an ethical responsibility to provide essential services for animals when necessary to save life or relieve suffering.” The annotations also indicate that, “When veterinarians cannot be available to provide services, they should provide readily accessible information to assist clients in obtaining emergency services, consistent with the needs of the locality.”

While attending to the professional responsibility to patients and clients is critical, the practical application of the language presents challenges. This is particularly true when only one or two practices are available to cover a large service area, when service demands are high and practices are understaffed, and when individual veterinarians find themselves responding to emergency calls without the support of a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant, perhaps putting themselves at increased risk of physical injury.

Delegates also will deliberate on four new or revised policies that the AVMA Board of Directors referred to the HOD with recommendations for approval.

The AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents proposed the new policy “Use of Prescription Drugs in Veterinary Medicine” to supersede the policies “Guidelines for Veterinary Prescription Drugs,” “Writing Veterinary Prescriptions,” and “Client Requests for Prescriptions.” COBTA proposed the new policy “Adverse Event Reporting” to supersede the current policy of the same name and the policy “Vaccinovigilance.”

The council had reviewed several of the existing policies as part of the AVMA’s requirement that policies be reviewed at least every five years. The proposed new policies would combine and update existing policies.

The Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee proposed revisions to the policy “Genetic Modification of Animals in Agriculture.” The revisions would include the addition of the following: “The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is designated as the lead agency for the health of all farm-raised animals under the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002. The AVMA believes the USDA should have primary responsibility in matters of genetic modification of farm-raised animals to facilitate innovation, foster commercialization, and manage health and welfare from a One Health standpoint.”

Finally, the Committee on Antimicrobials proposed several revisions as updates to the policy “Approval and Availability of Antimicrobials for Use in Food-Producing Animals.”

See details about the resolutions going to the House of Delegates.

HOD may consider resolution to revise AVMA policy on “Raw Milk”

The AVMA Food Safety Advisory Committee reviewed the AVMA policy on “Raw Milk” and has proposed revisions for clarity and accuracy.

The AVMA Board of Directors forwarded the revisions, with a recommendation for approval, to the AVMA House of Delegates as a late resolution for potential consideration during the regular annual session of the HOD, July 28-29 in Philadelphia in conjunction with AVMA Convention 2022.

The proposed revisions to the policy on “Raw Milk” would emphasize that mammals are the source of milk being addressed by the policy and that pathogenic organisms may be difficult to detect.

One proposed revision would add, “These pathogens can be shed directly from the animals or introduced via environmental contamination during the milking and packaging process.”

Another proposed revision would change the statement that “only pasteurized milk and milk products should be sold” to state, “The AVMA recommends that fluid mammalian milk sold or distributed to consumers be pasteurized and all dairy products be produced under a scientifically validated food safety program.”

The Food Safety Advisory Committee considered the risk associated with consumption of fluid milk specifically and concluded that fluid milk intended for direct consumption should always be pasteurized. However, other dairy products may be able to be produced under a scientifically validated food safety program alternative to pasteurization.