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1. How long do I have to keep veterinary records?
The Illinois Veterinary Licensing and Disciplinary Board requires you to keep records for a minimum of five years following the last treatment or examination. Records also need to be readily retrievable.
2. If a client asks for a copy of the animal's record, what are my obligations?
Veterinarians must furnish a copy or synopsis of medical records, upon request by the client. Records should be released within a reasonable period of time (five business days), and the veterinarian may charge a nominal copying fee.
While X-rays are part of a patient's record, they are considered to be the property of the veterinarian. You may provide a client with a copy of the patient's X-ray, and you can charge them your duplication cost.
Also, veterinarians customarily provide original radiographs to other veterinarians at a client's' request and in the spirit of professionalism and concern for the patient. The Veterinary Medical Examining Board expects that X-rays will be returned promptly to the original veterinarian. Failure to do so is a violation of administrative rule.
3. What if a client has not paid his bill. Can I withhold the records or their pet until I am paid for my services?
No. A veterinarian cannot withhold records or a pet for non-payment of services. The delinquent account is a collections issue.
4. Are veterinarians exempt from jury duty?
While jury duty is an obligation for each of us when called to serve, it can pose some serious obstacles to running a practice and making a living. Here is a suggestion: although you cannot "get out of" jury duty, you can request to serve at a more convenient or less busy time for your practice. The courts are not obligated to honor your request, but they may take it under consideration.
5. A client asked me to write a prescription rather than have me dispense the drug out of my clinic. What are my rights and responsibilities?
This strictly is your decision. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has developed a position statement to guide your actions. The AVMA encourages veterinarians to honor client requests to prescribe rather than dispense a drug when a veterinarian-client-patient relationship exists and the veterinarian has determined that the drug is medically necessary.
6. What about internet pharmacies. If they are outside of Illinois, must I be licensed in the state of the pharmacy to authorize a prescription?
Not at all. The client has the option of filling a prescription at any authorized pharmacy. In this example, the veterinarian's practice of veterinary medicine, which would include writing a prescription, would be confined to his or her state.
7. Am I obligated to write a phoned or faxed prescription request from a pharmacy?
If you are asked to approve a prescription, you should do so only if the prescription is medically appropriate for the patient and you have a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship. The decision as to whether a prescription drug should be used for a patient is made by you - the veterinarian - and not a pharmacy.
8. May I charge for authorizing a prescription?
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) does not have a position on this subject. There are currently no regulations preventing a veterinarian to charge a fee for writing a prescription.
In general, veterinarians must charge adequately for their professional services to cover he costs of maintaining a veterinary clinic, paying staff, and offering quality medical care to a client's animal. Some have chosen to charge a prescription issuance fee in those cases when the veterinarian does not directly dispense the medication to the client. Some have considered implementing a policy to charge a specified fee, whether a drug is dispensed or prescribed. Others have reviewed fees and the need for any adjustments within the context of all services rendered. And still others charge for their professional services using units of time (e.g. when reviewing prescription drug authorizations or conducting telephone consultations with clients).
9. If I believe an internet pharmacy has performed an illegal act (for example, dispensing a prescription drug to my client without my authorization as the attending veterinarian who has a veterinarian-client-patient relationship), what should I do?
Report it! The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has created a Pharmacy Complaint Form to simplify the reporting process for practitioners. The form identifies the organizations to which the form should be sent. Regulatory agencies cannot act unless they have factual complaints to pursue. Contact us and we will send you a copy of the complaint form.
10. If we are out of a legend drug but need it to treat one of our patients, can we get it from a neighboring veterinary clinic?
Yes, but the Drug Enforcement Agency cautions that both practices must keep a detailed log about the transfer of the legend drug. Not having a clearly defined paper trails is inviting trouble, should some thing go wrong and the DEA investigates.
11. Are there any guidelines for treating my patients with non-traditional care?
Before using unorthodox or non-standard methods of diagnosis or treatment, the Illinois Veterinary Licensing and Disciplinary Board suggests that you inform your clients and get their written permission.
12. Clients of mine have taken their dog to a chiropractor. I think he is treating other animals as well. Is this permitted?
It is allowed, provided that the veterinarian has seen and diagnosed the animal for a specific condition and the chiropractor receives a written referral from the veterinarian.
The care must be upon referral from a licensed veterinarian who has specified treatment or therapy for the animal. If these steps are not followed, then the chiropractor would be in direct violation of his own practice act, as well as the Veterinary Practice Act. Keep in mind that the referring veterinarian retains all liability if the animal is injured by a referred chiropractor. Therefore, you should exercise extreme caution before choosing to utilize a non-veterinarian chiropractic provider. If you have further questions on this matter, contact us.
13. What are the CE Requirements in the State of Illinois?
A: The ISVMA has compiled state laws and regulations regarding CE requirements into one reference document. The downloadable document answers:
• What is the renewal period?
• How long do I have to keep my CE records?
• How many hours do I have to earn to fulfill the CE requirements?
• Are there limits on way s to earn CE?
• I am a recently graduated DVM/CVT. Do I have to earn all required hours for license renewal?
• If I don’t renew in time, is there a grace period?
A: The ISVMA has compiled useful information on sharps and PIMW disposal for members to download. The information includes:
- the clinic’s legal responsibilities for used sharps disposal;
- how to correctly dispose of used syringes;
- a green alternative to sharps and syringes disposal;
- who can I hire to remove used sharps and PIMW from my business;
- what to tell a client who needs to dispose of used syringes for their diabetic pet.
15. Do I have a lien right that would allow me to retain the records of an animal treated by me until the owner pays the charges for that treatment?
A: “The Veterinary Medicine Act does not include any such lien rights, and there is nothing in the general lien acts (pertaining to other occupations and professions) that indicates that the legislature ever created such a remedy. I also have not found anything that indicates that there is a common law (non-statutory) veterinarian’s lien.
“In light of what I did not find, I would certainly caution you or any other veterinarian about attempting to withhold records as security for the payment of the charges due for the treatment of the animal to which the records apply. ..the Department (Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation) might view this as “unprofessional conduct”.
“It is possible that if someone were to attempt to assert such a right, some Illinois Court might well decide that there is such a common law lien. However, I believe that the most conservative and safe approach is to avoid the exposure to a Departmental inquiry and the attendant expense and stress by returning such records upon request.” Bruce Stratton, Senior Partner; Stratton, Giganti, Stone & Kopec; Springfield, Illinois. (ISVMA legal counsel.)
16. I have a client who wants to travel to the UK with her dog. The recent information I have obtained doesn't seem right. It doesn't match what I know and I would like some clarification. What are the current rules for entry?
17. If a doctor is working as a relief veterinarian for a clinic, may they buy controlled substances with their current DEA license for use in the clinic?
A: The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has indicated that relief veterinarians may not use their private Controlled Substance License to purchase medications for use in another clinic. The DEA issues one Controlled Substance License for every location that a doctor or veterinarian practices, prescribes, and dispensed controlled medication. Should a veterinary clinic run out of a medication, only a doctor with a controlled substance license registered at that location may legally purchase drugs for the clinic. In extraordinary circumstances a veterinarian should apply for a controlled substance license with the IDFPR, the cost is $5.00 per Illinois licenses and the Department will work with the veterinarian in an effort to expedite the process.
18. How should I maintain my Controlled Substance logs for the DEA? Are there any provisions that prevent me from using a computer to document the dispersment of controlled substances?
A: The state of Illinois does not have any provisions on how Controlled Substance Logs are kept beyond what is required by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency in the Controlled Substance Act.
A veterinarian may keep their logs in an electronic or digital format provided that they are readily accessible should a DEA agent need to do an onsite audit. This means that the computer with the log information is either password free or the veterinarian must provide the agent with the password at the time of the record audit. Records may also be kept off the direct premises but they must be made available upon request of the DEA. If a veterinarian has specific questions they should contact their local DEA Diversion Control office and speak to a Diversion Control Agent (Controlled Substance Act; Title 21 Regulations and Codified CSA; Section 1304.04, Maintenance of Records).
19. What procedures do I have to follow if an animal has been abandoned in our clinic?
A: The Illinois Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Practice Act of 2004 (225 ILCS 115/18) sets forth the requirements for dealing with an abandoned animal:
Sec. 18. Unless otherwise contractually provided between veterinarian and client, a veterinarian may dispose of any animal abandoned in his establishment, provided he shall give notice of his intention to do so to the owner at the last known address by certified mail, return receipt requested, and shall allow a period of 7 days to elapse after the receipt is returned before disposing of such animal. But if the owner cannot be located at such address, the veterinarian shall give such notice by publication in a newspaper published and having a circulation in the area in which such owner was last known to reside and shall allow a period of 7 days to elapse after such publication before disposing of such animal.