Practice Pulse

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

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Keeping you updated on regulatory and legislative changes affecting veterinary medicine.

QUESTION: I’m reaching out to get some information about releasing records to clients. We have a client that we will no longer be providing services to. This client has NOT paid their bill; are we required to release records to this client? Can we legally withhold records from clients that do not pay their bill? 

A: You cannot withhold a client’s records due to an unpaid bill. Please see F.S. 474.2165 Ownership and control of veterinary medical patient records; report or copies of records to be furnished. Sub Section (3): Any records owner licensed under this chapter who makes an examination of, or administers treatment or dispenses legend drugs to, any patient shall, upon request of the client or the client’s legal representative, furnish, in a timely manner, without delays for legal review, copies of all reports and records relating to such examination or treatment, including X rays. The furnishing of such report or copies shall not be conditioned upon payment of a fee for services rendered.

QUESTION: Can you please send me the Florida statutes regarding firing a client? Specifically, I am curious if the letter has to be sent certified. 

A: There is no statute on firing a client. A certified letter is better, but not required. If you have an e-mail address for the client, sending an additional e-mail (or a PDF copy of the letter) by e-mail is a good idea. The letter firing a client does not have to give any reason, other that something along the lines of: “We regret that we are unable to continue providing care to your pet (name or description). For the next 30 days, we will remain available only for emergency care. We urge you to make prompt arrangements with another veterinarian to ensure continuity of care, and we will forward a copy of the patient records to any veterinarian that you so designate.”

QUESTION:  I am a DEA-registered practitioner. I heard that the DEA is now requiring all practitioners to take eight hours of training on managing and treating opioid or other substance use disorders. Where can I take this course? 

A: Veterinarians are NOT required to take the training on treating and managing patients with opioid or other substance use disorders.

The DEA has advised that a checkbox for this training appears as a requirement on the online registration application. However, any veterinarian who is registering for the first time or renewing their DEA registration simply needs to check a box on the application that affirms they have “read and understood” the information about the training requirement.

QUESTION: I have been helping one or two mornings a week at a clinic where the owner was too sick to practice and now has passed away. I don’t know what to do about the controlled drugs that are all in her name. The drugs are secure, and I have a DEA license, but the practice is being sold. I anticipate I will only be here a few more mornings until the sale goes through. Any advice? 

A: The drugs are now part of the assets of the practice and can be sold with the practice. A detailed inventory must be created with names, quantities, lot numbers, and expiration dates.  The selling veterinarian and the purchasing veterinarian must sign the inventory. Because the selling veterinarian is deceased, you can sign in her stead. If there are any Schedule II substances, a DEA for 222 must be created to document the transfer.

QUESTION:  I am setting up new veterinary software, and my implementer asked me to determine what needs to be on the prescription labels for medication dispensing for Florida. Could you assist with this matter, please? 

A: All containers distributed must be labeled with: – The name of the drug – Strength and quantity of the drug – Expiration date – 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 – The name, address, and telephone number of the veterinarian prescribing the drug If it is a controlled substance, the following need to be included: – Practice name and address – Serial (prescription) number – The name of the patient – The name of the prescribing practitioner – Directions for use – Cautionary statements such as: “CAUTION: Federal law prohibits the transfer of this drug to any person other than the patient for whom it was prescribed.”

QUESTION:  How long should I maintain my liability insurance after retiring if I don’t plan to practice any longer? 

A: You should contact your insurance company to discuss this. Insurance companies usually offer “tail coverage” that runs for two (2) years, which is the statute of limitations for negligence, after the doctor retires/stops practicing. The premium is much less than the premium during practice because no new possibilities for claims are being generated.

QUESTION:  Does a mobile, mixed-practice veterinarian need to have an HCCE permit? I only take my vehicle out into the field for large animal patients. 

A: If you are a solo practitioner, you do not need an HCCE permit. However, you may have problems buying drugs from some wholesalers that require the HCCE as part of the transaction.

END NOTE:  The ultimate responsibility in the practice of veterinary medicine lies with the licensed veterinarian. Professional discretion must always be exercised.

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