CVMA | Chain of Custody

Chain of Custody

  • Work closely with law enforcement to maintain the chain of custody.
  • Evidence includes the medical records, x-rays or other imaging reports, clinical laboratory reports, medical notes, photographs, necropsy reports, etc. The patient or victim is also considered evidence as long as the case is open.
  • Know the location of the evidence at all times (including the patient). In other words, all the evidence must be secured and accounted for at all times in writing.
  • Use the attached evidence log form (or similar form) to help in maintaining the chain of custody.  If evidence leaves your possession, record the following:
    • To whom the evidence was given and why
    • The time and date it was given to that person
    • The time and date it was returned and by whom
  • Notify laboratories and other consultants in writing that this is a forensics investigation.
  • Animals being treated in the hospital should be confined, safeguarded and handled by the minimum number of staff possible.
  • Limit the number of individuals who handle evidence from the time it is first located until it is presented in court.
  • Ensure that any person who handles the evidence affixes the following information on the package: initials, badge number, and the date.
  • Obtain a signed receipt from the person accepting the evidence. In turn, sign the receipt log or a receipt when the item is returned to you for a court hearing.
  • When the evidence is returned, check for your identification mark on the specimen and make sure that it is the same item you turned in. Make sure that it is in the same condition as it was when first recovered. Any changes must be brought to the attention of the court.
  • Any person who has contact with the evidence can be called as a witness.
  • Foster care for animal victims should have prearranged court approval.
  • Medical record notations must be maintained as long as the patient is hospitalized.