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The veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) is the essential basis for interaction among veterinarians, their clients, and their patients and is critical to providing quality veterinary care. AAHA defines VCPR to require all of the following:

  • The veterinarian has assumed responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of the patient and the need for medical treatment, and the client (owner or caretaker) has agreed to comply with the veterinarian’s instructions.
  • The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the patient to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of its medical condition. This means the veterinarian has examined the patient within the past 12 months, or more recently as dictated by the age or medical condition of the patient.
  • The veterinarian is available for ongoing care of the patient or has arranged for emergency coverage or continuing care and treatment of the animal by an appropriate veterinary professional.
  • The veterinarian maintains complete and legible medical records, including assessment and treatment plan, in such a way that another veterinarian will be able to proceed with the continuity of care and treatment of that patient.
    • Refer to the Medical Records Section of the AAHA Standards of Accreditation for detailed recommendations.
  • In specific situations (e.g., rescue shelters, disaster response, hoarding intervention situations) “patient” may refer to a group of animals and “sufficient knowledge of the patient” means the veterinarian:
    • conducts medically appropriate and timely visits to the facility where the animals are housed,
    • conducts examination of representative patients/animals and review of medical records and laboratory or diagnostic procedure records, and
    • consults with those individuals providing care to the animals regarding ongoing health management programs.

Adopted by the American Animal Hospital Association Board of Directors July 2012.