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There’s no doubt the pandemic has changed how people live and work, but also how they approach medical emergencies for themselves and their pets. Since telemedicine has proven to be an effective way of treating patients from the comfort of their homes, California has allowed this for pets as well.
Seeing that California has loosened its restrictions, they’re also asking vets to return to their old ways of treating animals, meaning in-person consultations. But many pet owners don’t like this idea and believe veterinary telemedicine should be permanent. Below we’ll explain more about this issue and see some of the benefits of using telemedicine for pets.
If you’re looking to find vets in California that check all of your boxes and offer telemedicine services, the best way to go is to book an appointment and seek specialists’ services, as well as low-cost options for emergency care. Nowadays, telemedicine has become an integral tool in veterinary medicine. It has also made a big impact on patient care and the traditional veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
For several years, California VMB (Veterinary Medical Board) has researched and discussed the application of telemedicine in the veterinary profession, and in 2020 they amended the California Veterinary Medicine Practice Act. The term “telemedicine” is defined as being only utilized within the context of a valid VCPR (Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship).
A VCPR cannot be established solely by electronic means but it requires an in-person examination of the animal before commencing any treatment. It also states that it’s unprofessional conduct for a vet to practice any aspect of medicine on an animal patient without first establishing a VCPR except for wild animals. There are certain things vets must do to meet legal requirements for a VCPR to be valid.
During the past 2 years, people have seen great advantages of using telemedicine for their pets. The state has now decided that since the restrictions for Covid-19 have been loosened up, vets should continue working from their clinics instead of using telemedicine for treating animals. In 2021, a lawsuit was filed against the state by the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and several pet owners and vets to change this.
Since governments are starting to reapply rules limiting how liberally vets can use telemedicine, people have been allowed to take their furry companions to practitioners in person. Remote care is considered to pose a higher risk of misdiagnosis for nonhuman animals since they cannot tell doctors how they feel.
San Francisco SPCA general counsel Brandy Kuentzel has pointed out that as people use telemedicine for themselves, why not also use it for their pets. It’s a vital tool to improve the lives of not only people but their pets as well. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has also noted that telemedicine has proven to be crucial during the pandemic and it would remain vitally important even after it.
Telemedicine refers to the practice of veterinary medicine (diagnosis, treatment, advice) that occurs in two different geographic locations using telecommunication between the animal owner and a vet. It doesn’t replace current vet medicine practice but it’s a complementary tool, involving medical information regarding a patient’s clinical health communicated via electronic methods. Note that a VCPR must exist and other regulatory requirements to allow a vet to diagnose and treat a patient via telemedicine.
Teleconsultation is a branch of telehealth where a consultation using telecommunication takes place between an attending vet who is seeking advice and a consulting vet. For example, discussing a medical case with a specialist like a pathologist, internist, radiologist, or another colleague. Note that teleconsulting isn’t telemedicine, and the attending vet takes responsibility for all gathered information.
Teletriage is a safe and timely assessment and management of animal patients using electronic devices to consult with their owners, determining the urgency and need for immediate referral to a vet, based on the owner’s report of clinical signs which are sometimes supplemented by visual information such as photographs or a video.
Telemedicine is considered to be essential for many people since it expands our ability to provide care to our furry companions. There are multiple scenarios where it may be adequate to provide such care including certain recheck exams, preventative care exams (like renewing heartworm or tick/flea medications), and continued management of chronic diseases. The use of both in-person and remote vet care should be provided so people can find the best possible care for their pets.