Alert – Veterinarians Must Now Counsel Clients on Drugs Prescribed

SB 1480 went into effect January 1, 2019, and now mandates that veterinarians provide counseling to pet owners on every drug prescribed to an outpatient. Inspired by the owner of a Yorkshire Terrier named Lizzie who passed away from a shot of a long-acting antibiotic when she had kidney disease, the new law mirrors how physicians treat and consult human patients.

The legislation added Section 4829.5 of the Business and Professions Code (Veterinary Practice Act). While practitioners may have a registered veterinary technician or even an assistant counsel the owner, they must document this in the patient chart.

Required Counseling – Veterinarians must counsel regarding “dangerous drugs” which per Business and Professions Code section 4022 means:

  • Any drug that bears the legend: “Caution: federal law prohibits dispensing without prescription,” “Rx only,” or words of similar import.
  • Any device that bears the statement: “Caution: federal law restricts this device to sale by or on the order of a ____,” “Rx only,” or words of similar import, the blank to be filled in with the designation of the practitioner licensed to use or order use of the device.
  • Any other drug or device that by federal or state law can be lawfully dispensed only on prescription or furnished pursuant to Section 4006.

For such drugs, the counseling must include:

  • The name and description of the dangerous drug.
  • The route of administration, dosage form, dosage, duration of drug therapy, the duration of the effects of the drug, and the common severe adverse effects associated with the use of a short-acting or long-acting drug.
  • Any special directions for proper use and storage.
  • Actions to be taken in the event of a missed dose.
  • If available, precautions and relevant warnings provided by the drug’s manufacturer, including common severe adverse effects of the drug.

The veterinarian must also provide the drug documentation if requested.  

Method of Counseling — The law does not specify whether the counseling must be verbal. It states that “the veterinarian shall offer to provide, in person or through electronic means, to the client responsible for the animal, or his or her agent, a consultation …”

Medical Record – Specifically, the law states: “It shall be noted in the medical record of the animal patient if the consultation described in this section is provided or declined by the client or his or her agent.” So, veterinarians are again advised to document the consultation, the refusal for a consultation, who did it, and whether documentation regarding the drug was provided or refused.

If you need assistance complying with this new law or developing procedures and protocols to do so, please call Simas & Associates at 888.999.0008.