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One of the benefits of FVMA membership is our Helpline, which is available to all members Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Members can ask any business, legal, or professional questions and get timely answers to their most pressing concerns.

We highlight many of these questions in each issue of FVMA Advocate to keep members up to date on any regulatory or legislative changes and answer frequently asked questions. Here’s a short preview of some of the recent questions our members asked.
 

How long must we keep medical records?

The DBPR, Rule 61G18-18.002(1), Florida Administrative Code, provides that you must keep records three years from the date of last entry, including X-rays.

61G18-18.002 Maintenance of Medical Records. (1) There must be an individual medical record maintained on every patient examined or administered to by the veterinarian, except as provided in (2) below, for a period of not less than three years after date of last entry. The medical record shall contain all clinical information pertaining to the patient with sufficient information to justify the diagnosis or determination of health status and warrant any treatment recommended or administered.

 

We are hoping to understand, specifically regarding dental extractions, what the staff may perform under the supervision of the attending DVM. The guidelines are fuzzy, and we are hoping to clearly understand what their boundaries are.

The Board’s rule on tasks that may be delegated specifically fails to list tasks that can be delegated. So, there is no specific rule we can point to that states a technician cannot perform extractions. Keeping in mind that the veterinarian remains responsible for any task delegated, the answer then is that it is up to the veterinarian whether to delegate (or not) that task. That will take into consideration the experience / training / certification of the technician, so it is on a case-by-case basis.

A quick review of other states’ regulations shows that some states specifically prohibit veterinary technicians from extracting teeth, but the majority do allow (or do not specifically prohibit it, like Florida).

It seems that the best answer is that a technician can extract loose teeth but should not extract teeth under anesthesia. If the veterinarian feels that an individual technician can extract teeth, that would be up to the veterinarian. No veterinarian should delegate to a technician the “surgery” aspect as defined in the statute.
 

I had a practitioner in our area who recently retired and asked what the recommended time frame for a practitioner to continue to carry liability insurance in case of a claim that arises post-retirement for a case the practitioner was managing prior to retirement.

The statute of limitations for professional services malpractice is two years. Carrying malpractice for two years after retirement would cover this. This is called “tail coverage,” which is less costly considering the veterinarian is no longer actively practicing.
 


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