Colorado enacts bills impacting veterinary technician scope of practice, telemedicine

One bill requires establishing an in-person veterinarian-client-patient relationship for telehealth while the other addresses delegation and scope of practice for veterinary technicians and grants title protection for veterinary technician specialists

Colorado recently enacted two bills related to veterinary medicine: one dealing with telehealth and the other on scope of practice for veterinary technicians.

Colorado House Bill 24-1048 codifies the requirement to establish a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) with an in-person examination before using telemedicine and is effective immediately. Colorado House Bill 24-1047 clarifies and expands the scope of practice for veterinary technicians and veterinary technician specialists (VTSs) while also providing clarity for veterinarians on tasks they can delegate to veterinary staff members. This bill goes into effect January 1, 2026.

White man with beard speaking to a client via telemedicine
A new Colorado law clarifies that to establish a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR), the veterinarian must first conduct an in-person, physical examination of the animal or timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed these into law on April 19 and March 22, respectively, after both bills received strong bicameral and bipartisan support.

Telehealth bill

Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia use language that is essentially the same as language from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with respect to establishing a VCPR. The FDA has interpreted its own language to mean that a VCPR cannot be established solely through telemedicine. Federal law requires a VCPR, established with an in-person examination or medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept, for tasks such as extralabel drug use, issuing veterinary feed directives, and using certain types of biologics.

Of those states that have mirrored the FDA’s VCPR language, 22 have added additional language to explicitly require an in-person examination or visits to the location where animals are kept in order to establish the VCPR.

Colorado Rep. Karen McCormick
Colorado Rep. Karen McCormick has held stakeholder meetings and committee hearings on the two bills she introduced early this year to hear from all perspectives from the profession. Both pieces of legislation were signed by Gov. Jared Polis.

In Colorado, Rep. Karen McCormick, who is a veterinarian from Longmont, and the two bills’ main sponsor, wanted her state to be among those that codified the in-person VCPR requirement.

She said telemedicine conducted after first having an in-person visit to the veterinarian improves the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment plans. Without the physical examination, some conditions could be missed or a diagnosis could be delayed. 

The new Colorado law (HB 24-1048, also known as the “Providing Veterinary Services Through Telehealth” bill) does the following:

  • Defines different types of telehealth that can be used in a veterinary practice.
  • Clarifies that to establish a VCPR, the veterinarian must first conduct an in-person, physical examination of the animal or timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept. Only a licensed veterinarian with an established VCPR may prescribe medication using telemedicine.
  • Allows a licensed veterinarian who has established a VCPR to use telemedicine to provide veterinary services to clients and patients in Colorado with the consent of the client. A licensed veterinarian may also refer a patient to a veterinary specialist, who may provide veterinary services—except prescribing—via telemedicine under the referring veterinarian's VCPR.
  • Authorizes the state board of veterinary medicine to establish rules for the use of telehealth to provide veterinary services.
  • Establishes record-keeping, confidentiality, and privacy requirements related to the use of telehealth.

The bill also extends the VCPR to other licensed veterinarians who share the same physical practice location as the veterinarian who established the relationship if the other veterinarians have access to and have reviewed the patient's medical records. The veterinarian who has established the VCPR can also supervise staff members who are not at the same location using telesupervision if they are both employees of the same veterinary practice location, the veterinary professionals are licensed or registered in Colorado, the patient is located in Colorado, and the tasks do not require direct or immediate supervision, pursuant to Colorado Board of Veterinary Medicine (CBVM) rules.

“This bill addresses how we can best utilize teletechnology in veterinary medicine while continuing to focus on a veterinarian’s oath to public health, safety, and animal welfare,” Rep. McCormick said.

Proponents of the bill include the Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Colorado Livestock Association, and the Colorado VMA (CVMA).

Veterinary technician scope of practice

The new veterinary technician law in Colorado (HB 24-1047, also known as the “Veterinary Technician Scope of Practice” bill) clarifies the tasks that veterinary technicians and veterinary technician specialists can perform and levels of supervision required.

“Part of this bill’s job is to be educational to veterinary teams in our state,” said Colorado Rep. McCormick.

The bill directs the Colorado Board of Veterinary Medicine to adopt rules by September 1, 2025, that give licensed veterinarians the ability to delegate certain technical tasks—and with what level of supervision—to registered veterinary technicians, VTSs, or other veterinary staff members.

For example, under this bill, veterinary technicians are allowed to assist with surgical procedures and perform certain dental procedures under immediate supervision. Under direct supervision, they may place catheters and take X-rays, among other tasks.

“We’re truly stretching the limits of what a registered veterinary technician should be able to do in our state because of their education and training,” Colorado Rep. McCormick said.

Colorado Rep. McCormick says HB 24-1047 creates a clear path forward for veterinarians to fully leverage the skills of veterinary technicians, thereby improving job satisfaction and retention, and freeing up veterinarians’ time for other tasks and patients.

In addition, beginning on January 1, 2026, the bill authorizes a veterinary technician to receive a VTS designation as part of the veterinary technician's registration. It grants title protection for VTSs and prohibits a person from practicing as a VTS if they are unauthorized.

“It’s important that we recognize the registered veterinary technicians and VTSs and also hopefully help grow the workforce,” she said. “We hope that it'll help job satisfaction, job retention, and pay. As they are doing more, they're helping to generate more for whatever practice they’re in.”

The bill had broad support from the Colorado Farm Bureau, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Woolgrowers, and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association.

AVMA resources

The AVMA has put together the following summaries on pressing issues facing the profession: