Veterinary Medical Board Announces Further Extension of DCA Director’s Order Waiving Restrictions on Telemedicine and Extending Time to Refill Prescriptions

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By Stella Gerson

On August 31, 2021, the Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), Kimberly Kirchmeyer, issued Waiver Order DCA-21-193, which further extend the June 4, 2020 waiver order, DCA-20-21, regarding telemedicine for new or different medical conditions and prescription refills. This is the seventh time the June 4, 2020 order has been extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waiver Order DCA-21-193 impacts two critical areas of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR): telemedicine and prescription refills. At its July 22–23, 2021 meeting [Agenda Item 5C[1]], the Board stated that due to the potential exposure to and spread of COVID-19, consumers remain concerned with taking their animals to a veterinarian for examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Therefore, veterinary professionals worry that animals will not receive proper medical care due to fear of COVID-19.

The order waives sections 2032.1(b)(2) and (3), Title 16 of the CCR, requiring that veterinarians perform an in-person examination of the animal in order to diagnose a new or different medical condition. However, telemedicine cannot be used to establish a VCPR. The order also temporarily waives section 2032.1(c), Title 16 of the CCR, which limits veterinarians from prescribing medicine for longer than one year from the date the veterinarian examined the animal and prescribed the drug.

During the Board’s July 22–23, 2021 meeting, VMB agreed with its Multidisciplinary Advisory Committee’s recommendation to request a further extension of the DCA waiver, finding that while reexamination is important for the maintenance of veterinary treatment, the danger posed by the current pandemic warrants some flexibility in avoiding unnecessary exposure to or transmission of COVID-19 to consumers and veterinary professionals. Accordingly, Order DCA-21-193 allows prescription refills for up to 18 months from the last date the veterinarian examined the animal and prescribed the medication, extending the time to reexamine the animal patient by six months.

As of this writing, the extension order is set to expire on October 31, 2021, unless further extended.

[1] Discussion beginning at 47:30.

 

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