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: What limitations does a new graduate working under a current doctor’s license while awaiting state test results have? Can they administer a rabies vaccine? 

The new veterinarian can practice veterinary medicine under immediate (on premises, not over the shoulder) supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Under statute 474.207:

(5) An unlicensed doctor of veterinary medicine who has graduated from an approved college or school of veterinary medicine and has completed all parts of the examination for licensure is permitted, while awaiting the results of such examination for licensure or while awaiting issuance of the license, to practice under the immediate supervision of a licensed veterinarian. A person who fails any part of the examination may not continue to practice, except in the same capacity as other non-licensed veterinary employees, until she or he passes the examination and is eligible for licensure.

However, the statute indicates that only a veterinarian — which is defined elsewhere as a licensed veterinarian — can administer immunizations that are communicable to humans, like rabies. If a new veterinarian has failed any part of the examination, they may not continue to practice except in the same capacity as other non-licensed veterinary employees, such as technicians.  

QUESTION: Are we required to list every DVM on our prescription pad or can we have a general black RX with the hospital name or just the medical director?

ANSWERThere is no need for the pads to have every practitioner’s name. If the practitioner is working at the facility, they can use the facility’s prescription pads for the prescription by printing and signing their name on the front of the script, along with their DEA number. Although not officially a requirement for veterinarians, I always advise the use of counter-proof prescription pads.

QUESTION:  If an out-of-state veterinary surgeon wanted to start their own practice in Florida and work as a traveling surgeon to support the local veterinary community, do they need a Florida license?

ANSWER: Absolutely. The one exception is for a board-certified specialist that is invited by a Florida licensed veterinarian to treat/consult on the animals of one single owner. If this veterinarian will be traveling the circuit treating animals, he/she needs to be licensed.

QUESTION:  Do I have to provide a third party with my client’s contact information? For example, what if my client is living in a county where they want to enforce rabies tags and they are asking me for the client’s emails?

ANSWER: A veterinarian is required to provide the animal control authority with copies of rabies vaccination certificates for each such vaccine administered. That is the only obligation I am aware of. Client information is confidential. The best response to assertions by an agency like this one is “please point out the statute or local ordinance that requires me to do this so I can have my attorney review it.” 

QUESTION:  Do veterinary biomedical waste products fall under the Department of Health’s jurisdiction?

ANSWER: The Florida Department of Health regulates the practices relating to the management of biomedical waste, which is defined as any solid or liquid waste that may present a threat of infection to humans. The applicable rules are codified as Rule Chapter 64E-16, Florida Administrative Code. Biomedical waste includes non-liquid tissue, body parts, blood, blood products, and body fluids from humans and other primates. Veterinary waste, which contains human disease-causing agents and discarded sharps, is also included. Although there is no list of “human disease-causing agents” in the rules, veterinary wastes from an animal with a known zoonotic disease would be considered to fall within the definition.

Biomedical waste generators that produce or treat less than 25 pounds of biomedical waste in each 30-day period are exempt from all permit and fee requirements. Most veterinary clinics do not have a problem keeping below that threshold. Nevertheless, there are several points which must be mentioned. The first one is that the permit exemption is not self-executing. In other words, you must apply for a permit OR the exemption. Second, the only things exempted are the fees and permits. All other applicable requirements must be met. The most important of these requirements include having a written operating plan to manage biomedical waste and being able to document that training has been provided to all personnel that handle biomedical waste as part of their responsibilities.

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