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Clinical Practice Guidelines: An Opinion of the Legal Implication to Veterinary Medicine

Michela Pugliese, Eva Voslarova, Vito Biondi, Annamaria Passantino
Animals: An Open Access Journal From MDPI 2019 August 19, 9 (8)
31430919
The strengthening of the bond between humans and animals has changed the landscape of the veterinary profession. This has, in turn, led the legal system to assess damages in veterinary malpractice and liability cases more carefully, paying attention to the possibility of using clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to prove whether the defendant veterinarian contravened or not the standard of care. In this era of evidence-based veterinary medicine, CPGs are becoming an integral part of many aspects of veterinary practice, even if CPGs do not have the force of law and are situated halfway between ethical rules and legal requirements. Although guidelines have been used for several years, there seems to be a general lack of recognition of the medical and legal ramifications of CPGs for veterinarians. This creates ambiguity and inconsistency in the care that veterinary practitioners provide, compromises the care animals receive, and prevents the courts from assessing veterinarian competence in a systematic and rational way. On the basis of these considerations, this article discusses the legal implications of CPGs in veterinary medicine for dogs and cats and explores how the law may treat CPGs in the future. Redefining the CPGs should be a priority for veterinary profession. NOTE: The authors chose to use the terms "companion animal," "pet," and "small animal" interchangeably throughout this article, as all three are commonly in use and refer to the same animals (dogs and cats).

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