Veterinarians must communicate effectively with colleagues in a way that fosters respect and professionalism in the interests of clients, their animals, and the profession.
Understanding the guiding principle
Veterinarians must share relevant information with those who need to know. Client consent is required unless it is an emergency or there are valid grounds for disclosure.
Understanding section 1
Veterinarians who provide a specific and limited range of veterinary services to client/s (for example consultancy services) must:
- ask the client who their usual general veterinary practitioner is
- ask the client for consent to contact this veterinarian and share relevant information while treating the animal(s)
- only authorise the use of restricted veterinary medicines for specific clinical matters they have consulted on
- arrange for 24 hour emergency care in relation to the matters consulted on.
Understanding section 2
Referrals, second opinions, and clients transferring to another practice, involve two or more veterinarians providing services, advice or treatment on the same clinical case. In these circumstances:
- The treating veterinarian must, with the client's consent, seek relevant information from the other veterinarians involved. This ensures that:
- all relevant clinical information can be taken into account when making treatment or management decisions
- all veterinarians involved with the animal(s) current care know who else is involved.
- Clients have the right to use the services of more than one veterinarian; to seek second opinions; and to ask that their animals' care be transferred to another veterinarian. Veterinarians must:
- recognise clients' rights and, if appropriate, advise the client of them
- recognise when a case falls outside their area of expertise or competence and offer referral to an appropriately qualified colleague
- be aware of referral options and identify options to clients
- when referring to veterinarians with particular expertise, advise the client of the veterinarian's skills and experience and whether they are registered as a veterinary specialist
- be satisfied that consent has been given before releasing clinical information (except in an emergency situation)
- provide the relevant clinical records for the continued treatment and care of the animal when it is requested by the client or the managing or treating veterinarian
- not prevent or delay the transfer of relevant clinical records to a managing or treating veterinarian
- not try to discourage the client from seeing another veterinarian
- communicate with other veterinarian(s) in a professional manner.
- Veterinarians providing second opinions, treatment or diagnostic services as a result of a referral, transfer or request from a client must:
- state their opinion about the case in a way which is respectful of the first veterinarian
- respect any past and/or ongoing relationship between the client and other veterinarians
- with the client's consent, obtain relevant clinical records from the veterinarians who have previously treated the animal
- if the client is returning to their first veterinarian, and that veterinarian organised the referral or second opinion, the second vet must provide a summary of their findings and recommendations to the first veterinarian
- if the client has sought a second opinion or referral directly, seek the client's consent and notify the first veterinarian of their involvement as soon as possible
- consider whether it is appropriate to provide their opinion and/or provide specific veterinary advice on a case if they have not examined the patient or reviewed the relevant clinical records
- if providing treatment, arrange for 24 hour emergency cover for their patients in relation to the matters consulted on.
Understanding section 3
Veterinarians must treat colleagues with professionalism and respect; not making malicious or unfounded criticisms that may undermine the public's trust or bring discredit to the profession.
Understanding section 4
Veterinarians must ensure that veterinary colleagues within the practice are appropriately supported, particularly those who are newly registered or inexperienced.
Understanding section 5