Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR)

(California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 16, Sections 2032.1, 2032.15, and 2032.25)

No; for a second veterinarian to prescribe treatment of a condition, the condition would have to be diagnosed under the original VCPR. If no condition is diagnosed, a new VCPR would have to be established by the second veterinarian to treat the new condition. (CCR, tit. 16, §§ 2032.1, subs. (b)(2), (3), 2032.15, subs. (a)(3), (4).)

However, if the original veterinarian prescribed medications at the time of the wellness exam, then the second veterinarian (or any veterinarian at the same premises) can continue to refill those prescriptions up to a year without a new exam or VCPR. (CCR, tit. 16, §§ 2032.1, subs. (c), 2023.25, subs. (b)(2).)

Yes, Doctor B can treat the animal patient for the condition diagnosed by Doctor A, and no new exam is required to change the treatment plan for that condition. (CCR, tit. 16, § 2032.15.)

However, if Doctor B diagnosis a second (new) condition, treatment of the new condition would require Doctor B to establish a new VCPR. (CCR, tit. 16, §§ 2032.1, subs. (a), (b)(2), (3), 2032.15, subs. (a)(4).)

Yes, Doctor B can prescribe a new medication to treat the same condition diagnosed by Doctor A. To do so, Doctor B must consult the animal patient’s medical record or Doctor A (primary veterinarian), communicate the change in treatment to the client, and document the new prescription in the animal patient’s medical records. (CCR, tit. 16, §§ 2032.15, subs. (a), (b), 2032.3, subs. (a)(12).)

Yes, Doctor A can issue a prescription while working at “ABC Hospital” to treat the animal patient without establishing a new VCPR, as long as the treatment is for the same condition that Doctor A previously diagnosed. (CCR, tit. 16, § 2032.1, subs. (b)(2).) A VCPR is established by the veterinarian and client for treatment of the animal patient; accordingly, the VCPR follows the veterinarian, not the veterinary premises.

Note: Doctor A should ensure that the animal patient’s medical records at “ABC Hospital” includes records of the original examination and diagnosis performed at “XYZ Emergency Hospital”, as well as the prescription issued at “ABC Hospital”. (Business and Professions Code (BPC), § 4855; CCR, tit. 16, § 2032.3, subs. (a).) “XYZ Emergency Hospital” can share originals or copies of the animal patient’s medical records with “ABC Hospital”. (BPC § 4857, subd. (a)(5).)

If Doctor B also works at “ABC Hospital” and has not established a VCPR with said animal patient, but needs to refill a prescription in the absence of Doctor A, as long as the complete animal patient records, including records of Doctor A’s examination and diagnosis performed at “XYZ Emergency Hospital”, are located at “ABC Hospital” and Doctor B has reviewed those records, Doctor B can refill a prescription without a new VCPR. (CCR, tit. 16, § 2032.25, subs. (b)(2).)

Yes; a VCPR is required only if the veterinarian is administering, prescribing, dispensing or furnishing a drug, medicine, appliance, or treatment to the animal patient (except for wild or unowned animals). Part of establishing the VCPR is obtaining sufficient knowledge of the animal(s), which includes through laboratory testing, to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition. (CCR, tit. 16, § 2032.1, subs. (a), (b)(2).).

If the client requests treatment for the animal patient after the laboratory test results are returned, a VCPR, which includes a physical exam, must be established. (CCR, tit. 16, § 2032.1, subs. (a), (b).)