House Bill 956 – Updated Georgia Practice Act.

We’re all, I’m certain, interested in how the law affects the practice of veterinary medicine, particularly in Georgia.  Below is a brief summary of some of the topics covered in the act, that we’ll be discussing on this blog.

New Practice Act for Georgia as of April 2018

House Bill 956 (As Passed by Georgia House and Senate)

After significant discussions and changes, the current house bill, sponsored by the GVMA, Representatives Pirkle, McCall, and Jasperse, and currently in front of Governor Nathan Deal for signature.

The impacts and descriptions are generalizations, and readers are encouraged to look to the actual language of the Act to discern the true impacts and changes of the updated Practice Act. Also note that ‘Vet’ is short for licensed veterinarian, and ‘Vet Tech’ is short for licensed veterinary technician.


Topic Category Section Impact
Food Animals 4-1-7 Law enforcement will check with vet prior to filing  criminal charges related to conduct with food animals.
Records-Confidentiality 24-12-31 Waiver of liability for disclosure of client records, if at direction of court or client. No requirement to disclose except for Rabies history to physician of person bitten by such animal, within 24 hours of such record request.
Purpose of Act 43-50-2 New guiding principles of Act are to (i) Promote, Preserve and protect public health, safety and welfare; (ii) uniform scheme of enforcement; (iii) provision of oversight of practitioners.
Definitions 43-50-3 New Definitions for – (see below for numbered definition changes) Animal, Animal Patient, Approved Provider of Continuing Education, Client,  Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative therapies, Consultation, Continuing education, Direct Supervision, Extra-label usage, Food Animal, Immediate supervision, Indirect Supervision, Informed Consent, Livestock, Mobile Veterinary clinic, PAVE certificate,  Practice of Veterinary Medicine, Practice of Veterinary Technology, Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship, Veterinary Emergency Coverage, and Veterinary Feed Directive,.
Veterinary Practice (3) Animal  now includes any non-human animal (living or dead).
Veterinary Practice (4) Animal Patient – now includes groups of animals, threshold is examination or treatment by licensed veterinarian.
Animal Shelter (5) Animal Shelter – limited to those providing shelter and care for *homeless* animals.
Continuing Education (7) Approved Provider of Continuing Education – determined by the board, may be an individual or entity.
Veterinary Practice (9) Client – engages services of vet, for care, of an animal within their scope of control, as owner or caretaker.
Veterinary Practice (10) Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative therapies – broader definition, acupuncture, acutherapy, acupressure, homeopathy, manual or manipulative therapy, nutraceutical therapy, and phytotherapy now governed by the board when used on animals.
Telemedicine (11) Consultation – “act of licensed veterinarian receiving advice in person, telephonically, electronically, or by any other method of communication from a veterinarian licensed in this or any other state or other person whose expertise, in the opinion of the licensed veterinarian, may benefit an animal patient.
Continuing Education (12) continuing education – clarified that it is for benefit of practicing veterinary medicine or technology.
Veterinary Practice (13) Direct Supervision – same premises as animal, for treatment, must be quick and easily available.
Veterinary Practice (15) Extra-Label Usage – defined and now part of practice of veterinary medicine explicitly.
Food Animals (16) Food Animal – an animal raised for production of an edible product.
Veterinary Practice (17) Immediate Supervision – Oversight by licensed vet located in the immediate area, and within audible and visual range of the animal patient and the person treating the animal patient.
Telemedicine (18) indirect Supervision – oversight, not required to be on premises but given oral or written instructions for treatment and is readily available by telephone or other forms of immediate communication.
Veterinary Practice (19) Informed Consent – presented treatment options, reasonable efforts to inform client of the diagnostic, treatment options, risk assessment, prognosis, which are appropriate and probable – subject to standard of care – veterinarian agrees to provide and client consents to have performed.
Livestock (21) Livestock – animals converted to tangible personal property for sale or consumption (excluding domestic pets or companion animals).
Veterinary Practice (22) Mobile Veterinary Clinic – limited to units where animals are treated inside the unit.
Temporary License (23) PAVE Certificate permitted.
Veterinary Practice (25) Practice of Veterinary Medicine – Now expressly includes complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies and rehabilitation.
Vet Techs (26) Practice of Veterinary Technology – defined to include performing animal patient care or other services that require a technical understanding of veterinary medicine on the basis of instruction from a vet, excludes diagnosis, prognosis, surgery, prescribing, or dispensing. Include use of titles or representation that a party is able to do the above.
Veterinary Practice (29) Veterinary Client Patient Relationship – Now requires informed consent for any services. Follow-up now expressly includes other veterinarians and arrangement of care, as long as records provided during normal business hours. VCPR requires creating and maintaining appropriate records.
Food Animals (32) Veterinary Feed Directives – mirrors FDA recommended language for VFD.
Board voting 43-50-20 Quorum defined as a majority of board, veterinary faculty can be on the board.
Powers of enforcement of Board 43-50-21 Inspection powers, including of mobile clinics expanded, requirement to establish and annual publish fees for licensing.
Employment by non-veterinarians 43-50-30 Broadens of restriction of entities directing medical decisions or judgements.
Applicant Requirements 43-50-31 PAVE added to list of acceptable requirements (accreditation now established by AVMA. Applicants denied must be given notice with grounds, and right to a hearing with the board.
Licensing Examination 43-50-32 Board sets frequency of exams, no limit (used to be 3) on number of times an applicant can take an exam.
Continuing Education 43-50-40 Board may now waive CE for active duty military, for any period of time (formerly 3 yrs. or duration of national emergency). 10 hours of CE per biennium established in act for veterinary technicians.
Enforcement 43-50-1 Power to suspend license expressly granted in act.
Unprofessional Conduct 43-50-41 Fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive advertising includes representations on qualifications of veterinarians.
Temporary License 43-50-42 Temporary licenses may be given to military spouses as well as service members.
Temporary License 43-50-43 Faculty license practice broadened, now limited to institution of higher learning or educational or research program outside (but associated) with the institution.
Temporary License 43-50-44 Able to practice- faculty, resident, intern, graduate student of vet. School or vet technology – regular clinic/non-clinical functions, lecturing, demonstrations at accredited school with CE course. Graduate of ECFVG or PAVE under direct supervision of licensed veterinarian. Livestock management now includes “food animals”.
Telemedicine 43-50-44 Out of state veterinarians prohibited from “offer through electronic means remote services within this state, except for consulting, as otherwise permitted in this chapter.
Feed Directives 43-50-44 Feed directive requirement further limited per FDA guidance.
Owner’s rights 43-50-44 Owner can use bona fide, rather than full time employees. Ownership transfer to circumvent practice act called out.
Shelter care 43-50-44 Shelter care – under supervision of veterinarian, must be employee, written protocol from vet, properly trained. Does not include diagnosis, prescription, dispensing, or surgery.
Veterinary Medicine 43-50-44 AI now expressly part of veterinary medicine
Vet Techs 43-50-44 Vet Techs and other employees under direction of veterinarian, who is expressly responsible for their performance/acts.
Consultants 43-50-44 Added other providers/experts who in opinion of veterinarian would benefit animal, under their supervision and direction with valid VCPR.
Vet Practice 43-50-44 Farriery is for the “care of hooves and feet of equines and livestock.”
Temporary License 43-50-44 State of Emergency law link to allow out of state vets in certain circumstances.
Temporary License 43-50-44 Temporary license for institution of state’s institution of higher learning – must be for six months of longer duration.
Unprofessional Conduct 43-50-45 Unlawful practice including holding out yourself as licensed if you are not.
Licensing Examination 43-50-53 Applicants can take the exam more than three times without board review.
Vet Techs 43-50-55 No limit on number of vet techs at a practice.
Vet Techs 43-50-90 Vet Techs now expressly can be investigated by the board.
Board Powers 43-50-110 Broad powers – “necessary for the enforcement” of the act, including express powers to create additional rules necessary and reasonable to implement and effectuate the Act.
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