CVMA-ACMV

Veterinary Telemedicine - Position Statement

April 23, 2014

Position

For the purpose of this Position Statement, the “attending veterinarian” is a veterinarian seeking medical advice for any animal(s) in their primary care, and a “consulting veterinarian” is the veterinarian providing medical advice; this consultation occurs through telecommunication technology (‘telemedicine’).

The CVMA holds that, by definition telemedicine consultations are initiated by an attending veterinarian.  When an attending veterinarian seeks advice or expertise from another veterinarian by way of telemedicine, the attending veterinarian is ultimately responsible for how that advice is used/applies in that specific case.  The CVMA considers that, regardless of where the telemedical consultation originates from, the medical act is performed where the patient is located. 

When a consulting veterinarian is providing medical advice or expertise (telemedicine or in-person consultation) directly to an owner or custodian of the animal(s), the CVMA holds that, by definition, the consulting veterinarian is the ‘attending veterinarian’ responsible for the case, and

 a. must be licensed in the jurisdiction the animal is located
 b. must have a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR)

The CVMA does not consider an informal dialogue between veterinarians as telemedicine, in which no reproducible medical records and/or a documented exchange of diagnostic, treatment, or surgical recommendations are provided.  It is ultimately the responsibility of the attending veterinarian to judge the credibility and reliability of such informal dialogue.

Background

1. Advancing technology is rapidly transforming the practice of veterinary medicine.  While these advances offer opportunities to improve the delivery of animal health care, they also present challenges to practitioners and animal owners/caregivers. 

2. Veterinary telemedicine consultation refers to the practice of veterinary medicine which occurs at a distance using telecommunication technology.  When this consultation takes place between a consulting veterinarian and an attending veterinarian  who is seeking advice it includes:

 a. remote diagnosis, with or without treatment recommendations and/or  surgical intervention, and
 b. an exchange of information that meets the definition of practicing veterinary medicine in the jurisdiction where the patient is located.     

3.  The attending and consulting veterinarians involved in a telemedical consultation must ensure that:

 a. the integrity and confidentiality of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) is maintained.
 b. the telemedicine scope of practice is within the legal statutes set forth by the provincial veterinary regulatory authority where the attending veterinarian is licensed.

4. The CVMA recommends that animal owners/caregivers be aware that a veterinarian who provides a veterinary telemedicine service directly to an animal owner/custodian is, by definition, the attending veterinarian and must be licensed in the jurisdiction where the animal(s) resides.

5. The CVMA recognizes that provincial veterinary regulatory authorities license veterinarians in Canada and thus regulate the practice of veterinary medicine and determine:

 a. which procedures constitute the practice of veterinary medicine, and
 b. how the provincial veterinary regulations apply to veterinarians practicing telemedicine (i.e., consultation to an attending veterinarian or directly to an owner/custodian) on patients located in their jurisdiction by veterinarians located outside of this  jurisdiction.

(Adopted March 2014)