2013 AAHA Referral and Consultation Guidelines

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These guidelines were created by an American Animal Hospital Association task force charged with developing detailed and specific referral guidelines for companion animal practices addressing all matters of communication between those veterinarians referring and those receiving patients. The task force included general practitioners and representatives from several of the clinical specialties as well as practice management and quality assurance experts.

While there are many excellent referral relationships, as with most relationships, interactions between individual veterinarians and practices can be improved by enhanced communications and by open, honest discussions between those individuals on each side of the relationship. Unfortunately however, with everyone on each side of a given referral relationship being very busy, not wanting to impose on the other parties time nor to offend them, potential problems with referral relationships and ways to enhance those relationships are often not discussed.

This document is intended to help bridge the referral communications gap and facilitate:

  • Providing the highest quality of care for patients
  • Providing education and outstanding service for clients
  • Providing continuing education for the veterinary profession
  • Promoting the veterinary profession
  • Enhancing teamwork among veterinary professionals

AAHA recognized that in order for the guidelines to be embraced by the profession and utilized widely, the development process needed to be very collaborative. Input was solicited from a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the referral process including general practitioners, private practice specialists, emergency clinicians, teaching hospitals, specialty organizations and organized veterinary medicine with the goal of producing a set of practical guidelines that fully address the issues involved in referral relationships.

It is our hope that these guidelines will be utilized as a template for enhancing referral relationships in local communities throughout North America.

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