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COVID-19 Information for California Veterinarians

Friday, March 20, 2020 8:11 AM | Administrator Administrator (Administrator)

https://cvma.net/corona-virus-update/

COVID-19 Information for California Veterinarians

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The CVMA is monitoring information from local, state and national public health authorities regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus).  The following information is intended to assist veterinary professionals in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information for Veterinary Practices as Essential Services

If your community is under a shelter-at-home order, you should check whether veterinary practices are considered a business that provides essential services under your order. The current shelter-at-home directives are including healthcare operations as essential services. Businesses that provide essential services, such as veterinary practices, may remain open under specified conditions in communities with shelter-at-home orders. Note the order of the health officer for Alameda County (section 10b) as an example.

It is important that you check with your local public health department for the most current directives regarding which businesses are considered ones that provide essential services under your orders. If your county lists veterinary practices as essential services, you are allowed to remain open during a shelter-at-home mandate.

To date, local public health officials have not dictated which services may or may not be offered by essential businesses, only that they may remain open.

The following are recommendations by the CVMA for practices to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 while remaining open:

  • Limit physical contact with clients and staff and apply social distancing recommendations. Examples of measures that can be taken include the following:
    • Allow a limited number of clients in the practice at a time.
    • Schedule appointments at appropriate intervals to avoid clients arriving at the practice at the same time.
    • Set up a protocol for clients to remain outside of the practice if possible. Staff can check them in and have clients and patients enter at the appropriate time.
    • Keep adequate space between staff and clients, using the six foot rule as a guide.
    • Utilize electronic communication with clients when taking histories during the patient exam and when discussing patients/cases with clients.
    • Follow all mandates set by your county order.

The recommendations above are good for all practices to consider implementing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Additional Recommendations for Veterinary Practices

The CVMA also recommends that veterinary practices escalate cleaning and sanitation protocols. Here are examples:

    • Institute strict hand washing and sanitation protocols for all practice staff, including frequently washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, using disposable gloves, and avoiding touching the face.
    • Regularly disinfect “high-touch” surfaces such as door handles, light switches, telephones, keyboards, and other surfaces that are frequently touched.
    • Increase the cleaning frequency of the practice.

Veterinary practices should give special consideration to vulnerable groups which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Older adults (65+)
  • Individuals with compromised immune systems
  • Individuals who have serious chronic medical conditions such as:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

Practices may need to make special accommodations for individuals at an increased risk of COVID-19 illness.

Use of Telemedicine

The Veterinary Medicine Practice Act permits the use of telemedicine if veterinarians have a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) established for the condition being treated. Therefore, if a veterinarian has physically examined an animal patient within the last year for a given condition, telemedicine may be utilized for management of that condition. Read the law here.

Providing Medications to Clients or the Public

Governor Gavin Newsom declared the COVID -19 virus to be a state of emergency in California on March 4, 2020. California law allows veterinarians to provide medications to animal owners during declared states of emergency. The law states the following:

California Business and Professions Code Section 4826.4

(a) A California-licensed veterinarian at premises registered in accordance with Section 4853 that is located within a 25-mile radius of any condition of emergency specified in Section 8558 of the Government Code may, in good faith, do both of the following in addition to any other acts authorized by law:

(1) Render necessary and prompt care and treatment to an animal patient without establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship if conditions are such that one cannot be established in a timely manner.

(2) Dispense or prescribe a dangerous drug or device, as defined in Section 4022, in reasonable quantities where failure to provide services or medications, including controlled substances, may result in loss of life or intense suffering of the animal patient. Prior to refilling a prescription pursuant to this paragraph, the veterinarian shall make a reasonable effort to contact the originally prescribing veterinarian.

(b) A veterinarian acting under this section shall make an appropriate record that includes the basis for proceeding under this section.

(c) A veterinarian who performs services pursuant to this section shall have immunity from liability pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 8659 of the Government Code.

CVMA Continuing Education Courses

We are aware of the health and safety concerns of those attending upcoming CVMA meetings and events.  We are determining the status of our meetings based on reports from federal, state, and regional government reports and are contacting registrants with specific details of any cancellations. Please check here for information on the status of upcoming CVMA continuing education courses.

The CVMA offers live, interactive webinars to assist veterinary licensees in obtaining continuing education. Find a list of upcoming sessions here.


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