Practice Pulse

Edwin Bayó | Grossman, Furlow and Bayó | Published: Issue 1 2024

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Have a legal or regulatory question? The FVMA can help.

QUESTION: We have had one of our veterinary clinics in Florida reach out to our compliance department and state that they were informed that the clinic must have a veterinarian onsite during operating hours. Is this accurate? I have discussed the matter with FL DBPR and reviewed the Rules and Regulations for Veterinary Premises and cannot find any documentation to support this claim. Please advise.

ANSWERA veterinarian must be onsite for tasks requiring immediate supervision; you may have technician appointments if the patient has previously been examined by the veterinarian and is an established patient. Please see the rule about tasks requiring immediate supervision:

61G18-17.005 Tasks Requiring Immediate Supervision.

(1) All tasks which may be delegated to a veterinary aide, nurse, laboratory technician, intern, or other employee of a licensed veterinarian shall be performed only under the “immediate supervision” of a licensed veterinarian as that phrase is defined in Section 474.202(5), F.S., with the exception of the following tasks which may be performed without the licensed veterinarian on the premises:

(a) The administration of medication and treatment, excluding vaccinations, as directed by the licensed veterinarian; and

(b) The obtaining of samples and the performance of those diagnostic tests, including radiographs, directed by the licensed veterinarian.

(2) The administration of anesthesia and tranquilization by a veterinary aide, nurse, laboratory technician, intern, or other employee of a licensed veterinarian requires “immediate supervision” as that phrase is defined in Section 474.202(5), F.S.

(3) The administration of any vaccination by a veterinary aide, nurse, technician, intern or other employee of a licensed veterinarian which is not specifically prohibited by Rule 61G18-17.006, F.A.C., requires “immediate supervision” as that phrase is defined in Section 474.202(5), F.S.

QUESTION: I am a new practice owner in Pensacola and am due for my first inspection soon. Could you clarify the Florida rules for blood transfusion capabilities for general practice please? Some of my colleagues feel that having 24-hour access to blood products meets the requirements. Others feel we should have blood donors on hand, but I feel this may be a financial burden on the practice.

ANSWERThe Board’s rule requires blood storage or blood donor availability. There is no specific rule on how “available” it must be but having 24-hour access seems very available to me – particularly so in the case of a general practice that is not advertising as an emergency clinic.

61G18-15.002 Minimum Standards for Premises Where Veterinary Medicine Is Practiced.

(1) Exterior.

(a) All establishments where veterinary medicine is practiced must have the following:

1. Legible sign to identify location.

2. Facility clean and in good repair.

3. Telephone number for emergency veterinary care shall be visible and legible from the exterior.

(b) If premises where veterinary medicine is practiced have grounds, they must be clean and orderly.

(2) Interior.

(a) All premises where veterinary medicine is practiced must have the following:

1. Restroom – clean and orderly.

2. Office.

a. Clean and orderly.

b. License renewal and premise permit displayed.

3. A telephone must be answered 24 hours a day which one may call for emergency service.

4. Examination areas.

a. Clean and orderly.

b. Lined waste receptacle.

c. Sink and disposable towels. Sinks located in restrooms may not be used to satisfy this standard.

d. Examination table constructed of smooth impervious material.

5. Pharmacy.

a. Clean and orderly.

b. Blood storage or blood donor available.

c. Existence of accurate controlled substance log and individual patient records.

d. If controlled substances are on premises, a locking, secure cabinet for storage.

e. DEA certificate on premises.

f. Segregated area for the storage of expired drugs.

g. Disposable needles and syringes.

h. All drugs stored in the pharmacy must be properly labeled with drug name, strength, and expiration date.

i. If drugs are dispensed to the public the drugs are to be distributed in child-resistant containers unless a specific written request for non-child-resistant containers is made by the animal owner. All containers distributed must be labeled with the name of the drug contained within, the strength and quantity of the drug, the expiration date of the drug, instructions as to the use of the drug, the name and species of the animal for which the drug is intended to be administered, the last name of the animal’s owner, and the name, address, and telephone number of the veterinarian prescribing the drug.

QUESTION:  Is chiropractic care considered one of the other branches of specialties of veterinary medicine? Can a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) practice on animals under a veterinary referral? Can they be under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and care for an animal?

ANSWER: I believe that chiropractic could be considered another branch of veterinary medicine if a veterinarian is trained and using it. There is an exemption in §474.203(7):

(7) Any veterinary aide, nurse, laboratory technician, preceptor, or other employee of a licensed veterinarian who administers medication or who renders auxiliary or supporting assistance under the responsible supervision of a licensed veterinarian, including those tasks identified by rule of the board requiring immediate supervision. However, the licensed veterinarian is responsible for all such acts performed under this subsection by persons under her or his supervision.

This exemption is necessary because what technicians, aides, etc. do falls within the definition of “veterinary medicine,” so there must be an exemption to allow it. This is similar to many other professions that allow persons under the supervision of a licensee to perform tasks that would ordinarily fall within the definition of the particular practice.

A Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) does not have independent authority to treat an animal. If a DC enters into a referral relationship with a Veterinarian, then the DC can provide treatment on patients of the veterinarian. In that scenario, the DC would be acting as a technician, providing “treatment as directed by the veterinarian” and could do so under indirect (i.e. not on the same premise as the veterinarian) supervision.  

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