Course Sections

The Veterinary Law & Ethics course provides an in-depth study of the legal and ethical matters that apply to this profession. It uses real world examples from everyday practice to illuminate and drive home its learning objectives. Learners experience instructional methods that include: background reading, video-captured classroom lectures, case examples, in-class discussions, professionally produced videos, and online tests. The course is comprised of 7 sections, available as a 18-hour course or in multi-section modules. An 8th section is included as a free bonus for those who enroll in the full course. The list below contains the objectives and estimated completion times for each section.

Section 1: Moral, Ethical and Legal Decision-Making

  • Explain the factors involved in moral, ethical and legal decision making
  • Outline the importance that "ethics rounds" play when making choices that can reduce staff discord and grow one's leadership skills and stature
  • Define the differences between ethical principles and legal requirements
  • Know where to find resources available to assist in making these decisions

2 hours

Section 2: Understanding State Board Licensing Issues and Disciplinary Procedures

  • Explain the state board's mission and regulation of the legal monopoly granted to veterinarians by the board's licensing authority
  • Articulate how practice acts define what is legal vs. illegal
  • Determine what is required to obtain veterinary & vet tech licenses
  • Learn the legalities of non-veterinary practice ownership, rules & disciplinary actions for unprofessional conduct & regulations associated with mandatory CE

1.75 hours

Section 3: Applied Ethics – Relations with Colleagues

  • Develop a course of action to take when you are confronted with suspected or actual negligent veterinary care rendered by colleagues
  • Access and utilize key reference materials to develop scripts with which to approach colleagues where potentially adversarial, medical, ethical and legal issues exist
  • Find and apply the AVMA's Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics

1.75 hours 

Section 4: Animal Law

  • Define "pet," "owner" and "guardian" and be able to articulate the debates associated with each term
  • Differentiate between economic and non-economic damages for pet loss
  • Clarify the value of a knowledge of & the application of state and local laws and where to find them
  • Evaluate the implications of confinement, nuisance, bite, dangerous dog, abandonment, lien, livestock protection, welfare and anticruelty laws

4.75 hours

Section 5: The Legal Use of Veterinary Drugs

  • Understand proposals that will mandate that DVMs provide prescriptions
  • Identify FDA, USDA, EPA & DEA jurisdiction over veterinary drugs & biologicals
  • Summarize FDA drug compounding rules & risks associated with their use
  • Describe the rules for administration of extra-label drugs and drug labels
  • Articulate the elements required for a valid V-C-P-R
  • Identify current legal standards regarding the need for pain management drugs

2 hours

Section 6: Professional Negligence/Paw & Order

  • Identify the four elements of a cause of action for negligence
  • Explain negligence law's "duty of care" element
  • Describe the role that "standards of care" play in proving negligence cases
  • Articulate the difficulties proving "proximate causation"
  • Recognize how proof of damages impacts case outcomes
  • Articulate the veterinarian's role in preventing zoonotic diseases; view Paw & Order court case video to see how medical records and malpractice overlap

4 hours 

Section 7: Medical Records Short Course

  • List requirements for compliance with state board medical record regulations
  • Articulate the business, medical, public relations, financial and legal value of good client and patient records
  • This section is best viewed in conjunction with Section 6 to illustrate the synergy of these topics
  • Demonstrate innovative strategies for patient record management
  • Discuss ownership, retention and confidentiality requirements for records
  • Describe what SHOULD vs. should NOT be entered in your records
  • Explain the importance of legal "presumptions," the value of well written, signed, client consent forms and the evidentiary clout this provides

1.75 hours 

Section 8: Introduction to Contract Law (Bonus section)

  • Only available when enrolling in full course
  • Outline the elements required to create enforceable contracts
  • Describe the role "medical care plans" play as this terminology replaces money-focused "estimates"
  • Understand remedies for breaches of contracts
  • Explain the "law of unjust enrichment" and its application to patient care

1.75 hours

Vet Law scales and gavel


quotation start The contract unit is extremely beneficial. I don’t believe we as students are exposed to this material in any other setting or class in vet school. It also gives a good starting point to have the knowledge basis to not be intimidated to further our education in this subject matter on our own. Great section!!" end quotation

Josh Barker, Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2013

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