Frequently Asked Questions, incl Prescription info

Does a veterinarian have the right to refuse a new case from a previous, existing or new client ?

Yes.  A veterinarian has the right to refuse to take on a new case, whether it is with a previous client, current client or a person who has never been a client.

Does the client have a right to a written prescription on request, i.e. for the purpose of filling it through a pharmacy ?

Yes. Clients of veterinarians are entitled to a written prescription on request.  In addition, clients should be informed of their options for filling prescriptions.

Clients should be advised and cautioned about any potential issues or unknowns with respect to human formulations, and practitioners should record their advice to the client in the file.  (As one example, a client who wishes to have a prescription for a human formulation of a drug should be advised if there are outstanding questions as to whether the human form is absorbed and transported in the animal in the same manner as the veterinary form has been proven to behave.)  

As well, clients should be cautioned against using unregulated on-line pharmacies. Ultimately, the client has the right to take a prescription to whatever source they choose.      

A prescription for treatment, whether pharmaceutical or otherwise, is part of the medical information generated during the course of dealing with a patient; as such, that information belongs on the medical file, and the client is entitled to that information, both in the form of a copy of the file as well as a written script that they may fill whereever they choose.

Does a veterinarian have the right to insist that they examine my animal before they issue a prescription or re-fill a previously issued prescription ?

Yes.  A veterinarian has the obligation to practise to the standard expected of a competent veterinarian.  Veterinarians deal with a vast number of medical conditions, drugs and species and breeds of animals.  It is a matter of medical judgment - which in every case is for the veterinarian - as to whether they should examine the animal before issuing or renewing a prescription.  The vet's decision will turn on many factors in each particular case, including the breed or species of animal and whether there are any possible contra-indications for that breed, species or individual; the general health and other medical issues of the animal; what other pharmaceuticals that the animal might be taking that could interact harmfully with the new drug; whether the animal should be checked first for any negative effects of the drug from long term usage to the liver or other organs or bodily systems; etc.  The vet in this as in every regard is required to meet the standard of care that is expected of a competent practitioner.

Does a veterinarian have the right to ask me to prove that I own my pet or animal ?

Yes, particularly in cases where the veterinarian previously dealt with co-owners and one now claims to have sole ownership of the animal. This situation often arises in marital separations. In such a case the client has a number of options.  They can bring a signed agreement or other document that objectively verifies that the ownership has passed to one person, or consent to the veterinarian contacting the other (former) previous client to verify that they no longer co-own the animal.

Does a veterinarian have the right to refuse to perform a medical task that I want done, including euthanasia ?

Yes.  A veterinarian's first obligation is always to the animal.  They are obligated to give the advice that in their medical judgment is in the animal's best interests given all the circumstances of the case.  If a client asks that a task be performed which the veterinarian believes is not in the animal's interest, the veterinarian is under no obligation to perform that task and should refuse to do so if they feel that the proposed action might harm the animal.

Euthanasia is a most ultimate medical procedure, and if a veterinarian feels that it is not necessary or not in the animal's best interest, the veterinarian has a right to refuse to accept and follow such instructions from a client.

Yes.  A veterinarian must be available or arrange to have another veterinarian available for follow-up care in the event of an adverse unexpected complication or development in a case. 

QUESTIONS ABOUT VETERINARY RECORDS

Can I get a copy of my pet's or animal's medical records from my veterinarian ?

Yes, the general rule is that a veterinarian is required to provide a copy of the client's animal's medical records on the request of the client.

Yes.  A veterinarian has the right to refuse to take on a new case, whether it is with a previous client, current client or a person who has never been a client.

Does the client have a right to a written prescription on request, i.e. for the purpose of filling it through a pharmacy ?

Yes. Clients of veterinarians are entitled to a written prescription on request.  In addition, clients should be informed of their options for filling prescriptions.

Clients should be advised and cautioned about any potential issues or unknowns with respect to human formulations, and practitioners should record their advice to the client in the file.  (As one example, a client who wishes to have a prescription for a human formulation of a drug should be advised if there are outstanding questions as to whether the human form is absorbed and transported in the animal in the same manner as the veterinary form has been proven to behave.)  

As well, clients should be cautioned against using unregulated on-line pharmacies. Ultimately, the client has the right to take a prescription to whatever source they choose.      

A prescription for treatment, whether pharmaceutical or otherwise, is part of the medical information generated during the course of dealing with a patient; as such, that information belongs on the medical file, and the client is entitled to that information, both in the form of a copy of the file as well as a written script that they may fill whereever they choose.

Does a veterinarian have the right to insist that they examine my animal before they issue a prescription or re-fill a previously issued prescription ?

Yes.  A veterinarian has the obligation to practise to the standard expected of a competent veterinarian.  Veterinarians deal with a vast number of medical conditions, drugs and species and breeds of animals.  It is a matter of medical judgment - which in every case is for the veterinarian - as to whether they should examine the animal before issuing or renewing a prescription.  The vet's decision will turn on many factors in each particular case, including the breed or species of animal and whether there are any possible contra-indications for that breed, species or individual; the general health and other medical issues of the animal; what other pharmaceuticals that the animal might be taking that could interact harmfully with the new drug; whether the animal should be checked first for any negative effects of the drug from long term usage to the liver or other organs or bodily systems; etc.  The vet in this as in every regard is required to meet the standard of care that is expected of a competent practitioner.

Does a veterinarian have the right to ask me to prove that I own my pet or animal ?

Yes, particularly in cases where the veterinarian previously dealt with co-owners and one now claims to have sole ownership of the animal. This situation often arises in marital separations. In such a case the client has a number of options.  They can bring a signed agreement or other document that objectively verifies that the ownership has passed to one person, or consent to the veterinarian contacting the other (former) previous client to verify that they no longer co-own the animal.

Does a veterinarian have the right to refuse to perform a medical task that I want done, including euthanasia ?

Yes.  A veterinarian's first obligation is always to the animal.  They are obligated to give the advice that in their medical judgment is in the animal's best interests given all the circumstances of the case.  If a client asks that a task be performed which the veterinarian believes is not in the animal's interest, the veterinarian is under no obligation to perform that task and should refuse to do so if they feel that the proposed action might harm the animal.

Euthanasia is a most ultimate medical procedure, and if a veterinarian feels that it is not necessary or not in the animal's best interest, the veterinarian has a right to refuse to accept and follow such instructions from a client.

Yes.  A veterinarian must be available or arrange to have another veterinarian available for follow-up care in the event of an adverse unexpected complication or development in a case. 

QUESTIONS ABOUT VETERINARY RECORDS

Can I get a copy of my pet's or animal's medical records from my veterinarian ?

Yes, the general rule is that a veterinarian is required to provide a copy of the client's animal's medical records on the request of the client.

However, if a veterinarian has reason to believe that the person requesting the records as the owner is actually no longer the owner, the vet has the right to demand proof of current ownership before they hand over the records.

This can happen for example in the case of clients who are divorcing and the vet is not able to ascertain who at present is the legal owner of the animal.

Is my vet entitled to charge me for giving me a copy of the records ?

Yes, the veterinarian is entitled to recover from the client the reasonable costs of producing a copy of the records for the client.  What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of the case; the factors would include the number of pages to be copied, the cost of staff time, etc.  The BCVMA will only investigate the amount charged where there is clear evidence of a fee that is so high as to be unconscionable.

Does my vet have to give me the original medical records for my animal ?

No, the client is entitled to and a veterinarian is required to provide to the client, a copy of the medical records only. 

Does my veterinarian have to create records of the care of my animal ?  If so, when ?

Yes.  Veterinarians are required to as soon as reasonably practicable, create thorough and readable records pertaining to every medical case that they handle.  Thorough means that another veterinarian could follow the course, recommendations, client instructions, and reasons for the decisions that were made and procedures that were administered, in the case.

This applies to every case, including those that involve just examinations and vaccinations of young pets.

Can my vet withhold my animal's medical records if I do not pay my bill ?

The answer is yes, unless to do so puts the animal at significant risk in that a succeeding veterinarian needs the records to properly assess the animal's medical situation including history, and recent assessments, diagnoses and treatments.

QNS ABOUT VETERINARY FEES AND BILLS

Can my vet refuse to give me back my animal for an unpaid medical bill ?

No.  The CVBC's position is that there is no legal right to withold an animal or to take ownership of an animal on the grounds of nonpayment of a bill.  Even if there was an agreement to this at the time that the client agreed to the provision of veterinary services, the CVBC would view this to be an unprofessional arrangement and contrary to the rule that veterinarians are to avoid unseemly disputes with clients pertaining to the payment for services.

Does the CVBC investigate complaints about veterinary bills ?

Yes, if and only if there is evidence of the following: 

    1.  Charging for services that were not rendered.

    2.  Failure to provide the client with a reasonable estimate of the cost of the recommended medical services.

    3.  Failure to obtain informed consent for the medical services rendered and actions taken. 

    4.  Fees that are so high as to be unconscionable.

    5.  Failure to provide the client with a fully itemized bill, upon the client's request.

    6.  Misleading advertising pertaining to the fees charged.  This could happen for example if the ad listed a certain fee amount for a spay operation and did not make it clear that charges for such elements as examination, surgical tray fee, anaesthetic and sedation, pain relief, sutures, fluids, etc. were not included in the advertised fee.

Please note that the CVBC does not have the legal power to order a veterinarian to refund or reduce a bill, or compensate a client.

Does the CVBC set mandatory or recommended fees for veterinary services ?

No.  The CVBC does not impose or recommend any level of charges for veterinary services.

Veterinarians must be allowed to charge what they need to - taking into account the widely varied overhead factors, local economic conditions, etc. - in order for their practices to survive and thrive.  Veterinarians may charge fees that are higher than neighbouring practices, so long as the fees are not so high as to be unconscionable. 

Veterinarians may also charge or advertise fees that are relatively low cost for services, as long as the advertising is not misleading and the services meet the standard of practice required, including all of the elements that the average reader would assume are included in the advertised service for the fee advertised.

However, if a veterinarian has reason to believe that the person requesting the records as the owner is actually no longer the owner, the vet has the right to demand proof of current ownership before they hand over the records.

This can happen for example in the case of clients who are divorcing and the vet is not able to ascertain who at present is the legal owner of the animal.

Is my vet entitled to charge me for giving me a copy of the records ?

Yes, the veterinarian is entitled to recover from the client the reasonable costs of producing a copy of the records for the client.  What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of the case; the factors would include the number of pages to be copied, the cost of staff time, etc.  The BCVMA will only investigate the amount charged where there is clear evidence of a fee that is so high as to be unconscionable.

Does my vet have to give me the original medical records for my animal ?

No, the client is entitled to and a veterinarian is required to provide to the client, a copy of the medical records only. 

Does my veterinarian have to create records of the care of my animal ?  If so, when ?

Yes.  Veterinarians are required to as soon as reasonably practicable, create thorough and readable records pertaining to every medical case that they handle.  Thorough means that another veterinarian could follow the course, recommendations, client instructions, and reasons for the decisions that were made and procedures that were administered, in the case.

This applies to every case, including those that involve just examinations and vaccinations of young pets.

Can my vet withhold my animal's medical records if I do not pay my bill ?

The answer is yes, unless to do so puts the animal at significant risk in that a succeeding veterinarian needs the records to properly assess the animal's medical situation including history, and recent assessments, diagnoses and treatments.

QNS ABOUT VETERINARY FEES AND BILLS

Can my vet refuse to give me back my animal for an unpaid medical bill ?

No.  The CVBC's position is that there is no legal right to withold an animal or to take ownership of an animal on the grounds of nonpayment of a bill.  Even if there was an agreement to this at the time that the client agreed to the provision of veterinary services, the CVBC would view this to be an unprofessional arrangement and contrary to the rule that veterinarians are to avoid unseemly disputes with clients pertaining to the payment for services.

Does the CVBC investigate complaints about veterinary bills ?

Yes, if and only if there is evidence of the following: 

    1.  Charging for services that were not rendered.

    2.  Failure to provide the client with a reasonable estimate of the cost of the recommended medical services.

    3.  Failure to obtain informed consent for the medical services rendered and actions taken. 

    4.  Fees that are so high as to be unconscionable.

    5.  Failure to provide the client with a fully itemized bill, upon the client's request.

    6.  Misleading advertising pertaining to the fees charged.  This could happen for example if the ad listed a certain fee amount for a spay operation and did not make it clear that charges for such elements as examination, surgical tray fee, anaesthetic and sedation, pain relief, sutures, fluids, etc. were not included in the advertised fee.

Please note that the CVBC does not have the legal power to order a veterinarian to refund or reduce a bill, or compensate a client.

Does the CVBC set mandatory or recommended fees for veterinary services ?

No.  The CVBC does not impose or recommend any level of charges for veterinary services.

Veterinarians must be allowed to charge what they need to - taking into account the widely varied overhead factors, local economic conditions, etc. - in order for their practices to survive and thrive.  Veterinarians may charge fees that are higher than neighbouring practices, so long as the fees are not so high as to be unconscionable. 

Veterinarians may also charge or advertise fees that are relatively low cost for services, as long as the advertising is not misleading and the services meet the standard of practice required, including all of the elements that the average reader would assume are included in the advertised service for the fee advertised.

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