Many clinics bring in a client, have an assistant pop some shots, and send off the client without the patient being seen or examined by a vet. The only records in the record management system is that a shot was delivered on a certain date, perhaps with the charges noted. This is particularly common in some of the mobile vaccination clinics. Is it ok for a dog to receive vaccines without interaction with a veterinarian?
Well, the answer is yes, in some circumstances. An owner can buy vaccines and administer them by themselves. We all know of some farm supply or pet supply companies that provide vaccines directly to the consumer. And if there’s an adverse reaction or the vaccine isn’t administered correctly, the owner is taking the risk themselves.
But when an owner comes to a vet clinic, mobile or not, it’s my opinion that they have certain reasonable expectations. They expect that the vaccine will be administered properly. They expect that it has been stored properly and is active. They expect that if there is an adverse reaction, the veterinarians of that clinic will be there to help them. They expect that the vet/clinic will inform them if there are risks with taking a vaccine, depending upon the breed, age, and health condition of the patient. And if any of these things do not happen, they rely upon some government agency to monitor, set standards, and require those providing the shots to conform to these expectations.
That’s not my legal analysis, just my experience with customers who have complained about vaccinations at vet clinics or stores. So I recommend that all your staff, particularly assistants, are trained to:
- Explain how the vaccines are stored and protected.
- Explain the typical risks of vaccines, and offer to have a vet discuss those risks with the owner.
- Explain what to do if there is an adverse reaction, and how they can tell if their pet is having an adverse reaction.
- Train staff in how to properly administer vaccines, and when not to administer the vaccine (some states require vets to perform rabies vaccines, for example).
- Set up consistent protocols for vaccines.
- Keep detailed records of when vaccines are given, along with the general health of the animal.
- Have staff ready to explain what advantages having a vet clinic administer vaccines provides. Some vaccine providers have additional warranties and remedies for the vaccines, including payment of care in the event of an adverse reaction, or a failure of the vaccine with records of proper compliance.
In some states, an exam may be required to create the veterinary-patient-owner relationship. We’ll talk about that, along with other legal requirements, in part two.