The majority of states have a Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) outlined in their state legislation regarding veterinary medicine board rules or veterinary practice acts. This legislation was introduced and advocated for by veterinarians and various state and national veterinary medical associations to set base guidelines on veterinary care between all three parties: veterinarian, client, and patient.
What is VCPR, and Why Would It Change?
The VCPR is an established relationship between a veterinarian, owner or producer, and patient or herd. Through the VCPR, veterinarians adhere to the protocol to understand and be able to diagnose a patient accurately and effectively. Because canines cannot speak, veterinarians need to have a formed relationship with them to properly treat and diagnose their needs to the best of their ability. In the past, this relationship was based on an in-person appointment, frequent check-ins, and written paperwork. However, with the uptick in telemedicine use and social distancing, this standard has changed. Since the original emergence of VCPR language, the FDA has adopted this concept in relation to the Veterinary Feed Directive and off-label use of prescription medications.
Covid- 19 Impacts
In early 2020 many states waived or revised their VCPR due to Covid-19 and social distancing concerns. Additionally, the federal VCPR rules were temporarily loosened in March. This enabled veterinarians to use telemedicine approaches for extra-label drug use in animals and veterinary feed directives (VFD) without examining the animal’s in-person at the facility. The VCPR is especially important with the increase in telemedicine options in recent years and the sudden surge of telemedicine as an essential part of veterinary practices across the country due to Covid-19.
Impacts include 17 states which suspended restrictions regarding creating a VCPR through the usage of telemedicine, 10 states that had had government officials recognize and encourage the use of telemedicine when most needed, and 3 states that extended their time restraints regarding how long a single VCPR is in place for a patient.
All 27 of these states have made significant changes that could progress into others as the pandemic continues. It is important as a Veterinarian to be aware of officials’ changes within their perspective state as well.
As each state addresses its own VCPR regulations individually the VCPR can and does vary by state. For the most up-to-date requirements and temporary exceptions in your state, the VetMeasure team recommends you look to your state Veterinary Medical Association for additional information, as they are most familiar with the laws and regulations in your area.