Guidelines of the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria
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Guideline 13 - Telemedicine in the provision of veterinary services

This guideline outlines the appropriate standard expected of a registered veterinary practitioner in the course of veterinary practice. It should be read in conjunction with other related guidelines.

Context to Guideline 13:Telemedicine in the provision of veterinary services

Improvements in telecommunications and computer technology have increased the public’s access to veterinary services, particularly for animals located where access would otherwise be limited.

Veterinary telemedicine, delivered remotely and with the assistance of telecommunications, provides an alternative to the direct physical examination of an animal or a face-to-face consultation between a veterinary practitioner and an owner. Veterinary services provided through telemedicine consultation may include diagnostic advice or advice on maintaining the wellbeing of an animal.

Veterinary telemedicine is undertaken only when there is a pre-existing veterinary practitioner–owner-animal relationship. The Board acknowledges that veterinary advice given without a physical examination of an animal and/or without pre-existing knowledge of the animal’s circumstances and environment may increase the risk of errors in clinical judgement and may not be in the best interest of the animal.

Veterinary services delivered via a telemedicine consultation should be of the same standard as, and demonstrate professional conduct equal to, those delivered via a consultation involving direct physical examination of an animal. In particular, a veterinary practitioner delivering telemedicine consultations must create and maintain a veterinary medical record for each animal and owner receiving remotely delivered veterinary services.

A veterinary practitioner must be satisfied that the owner understands and is able to follow directions on the use of veterinary medications prescribed and/or supplied to the owner during a telemedicine consultation.

Where there is any doubt as to whether a telemedicine consultation is appropriate or adequate for a particular case, a veterinary practitioner should consult with another veterinary practitioner and record their peer’s opinion in the medical record.

Professional conduct under this guideline is demonstrated by the following:
13.1 Except for emergency triage, a veterinary practitioner takes reasonable steps to satisfy their obligations within the veterinary practitioner-owner-animal (VOA) relationship. 
13.2 A veterinary practitioner retains sufficient evidence of the VOA relationship to demonstrate compliance with all legal requirements and professional obligations.
13.3 A veterinary practitioner provides telemedicine veterinary services to remotely located owners only when it can be demonstrated that an animal is under the practitioner’s care, and the practitioner has access to and is familiar with the veterinary medical record of the animal.
13.4 A veterinary practitioner providing a telemedicine veterinary consultation is familiar with the animal’s current management and health status and with the impact of its geographical location on continuing care.  
A veterinary practitioner obtains and documents the owner’s informed consent for all treatment arising from the telemedicine veterinary consultation.
A veterinary practitioner providing emergency triage advice and instructions to owners does so without requiring a physical examination of the animal and irrespective of whether a VOA relationship has been established.
A veterinary practitioner providing telemedicine veterinary services to an animal located in Victoria is required to be registered in Victoria (or deemed to be registered in Victoria under section 3A or section 3B of the Veterinary Practice Act 1997).
A veterinary practitioner takes reasonable steps to collect all possible information relating to an animal, including photos or videos, from the owner.
A veterinary practitioner records their provision of telemedicine veterinary services in an animal’s veterinary medical record. 
A veterinary practitioner communicates to an owner any impact on their ability to make fully informed professional judgements due to limitations presented by a telemedicine veterinary consultation.
13.11 A veterinary practitioner makes necessary arrangements and provides information to ensure continuity of care for an animal after a telemedicine veterinary consultation.
13.12 A veterinary practitioner delivering telemedicine veterinary services complies with any additional requirements issued by the Board as specific guidance, e.g., temporary guidance issued in response to State or national emergencies.

Related guidelines

Related legislation

Date of publication
In effect from 1 May 2021.

This material is current only at the time of publication and may be changed from time to time. The Board reviews and updates the Guidelines on a continuous basis to reflect changes in the science and knowledge base underpinning contemporary veterinary practice. The Board will take reasonable steps to inform the veterinary profession when such updates are released but it remains the responsibility of the individual veterinary practitioner to ensure that their knowledge and application of these Guidelines to their own practice is current.

While the Board has made every effort to ensure that the material in these Guidelines is correct in law, it shall not be liable to any veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity in relation to any claim, action or proceeding whatsoever (whether in contract, negligence or other tort or in proceedings seeking any other form of legal or equitable remedy or relief) for any inadequacy, error or mistake, or for any deficiency in the whole or any part of this document (including any updates incorporated in the document from time to time). A veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity acting upon the contents of this document acknowledges and accepts that this is the basis upon which the Board has produced these Guidelines and made them available to such person or entity.