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Frequently Asked Questions
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FAQs

Below are frequently asked questions that the MVMA office staff has received. Please contact the office if you have a question that isn't mentioned here and we'd be happy to help you (or point you in the right direction)!

Click on one of the below topics to jump through the FAQ page or simply scroll through for answers to all questions.

General Practice


Continuing Education


Prescriptions


Controlled Substances


Rabies


Microchips


Mobile and Relief Veterinarians


Complementary Medicine



General Practice

 

Q:  How long is it required to keep medical records, including x-rays?

A:  Four (4) years after the last contact with the animal, even if the animal is deceased. Read more HERE.

 

Q: Are veterinarians allowed to hold an animal or withhold medical records if there is an outstanding open amount owed to the practice?

A: No, a veterinarian may not hold an animal even if there is money owed. Regarding medical records, upon the request of the owner, a licensee shall provide copies of medical records and radiographs to the owner of an animal or another veterinarian. A reasonable fee may be charged for the cost of such copies.

 

Q: How can I dispose of animal remains if an owner does not claim them?

A: You must give notice of the intention to dispose of remains of an abandoned animal to the owner's last known address by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. You must allow a period of 10 days to elapse after the receipt if returned before disposing of the animal (General Laws/Part I/Title XVI/Chapter 112/Section 59A).

 

Q: What services/goods can be taxed in the state of Massachusetts?

A: Non-prescription products, companion animal prescriptions, food animal prescriptions. Read more HERE.


Q: Do you have to be a licensed veterinarian to own a practice in Massachusetts?

A: It depends on the legal business structure of a veterinary practice. Professional corporations under MGL 156A must be owned by licensed professionals. Other forms of business, such as a sole proprietorship or a partnership, do not require that owners be licensed veterinarians. If in doubt, we advise you seek the opinion of an attorney versed in corporate law in the Commonwealth. 


Q: What are the guidelines to classifying veterinary facilities?

A: There are many types of facilities. Read more HERE.

 

Q: How do I know which materials are considered hazardous and how to dispose of them if they are?

A: Discarded chemicals, off-specificiation products, and liquid or solid residues are regulated as "hazardous waste" if they are: corrosive (pH of less than 2 or 12.5 and greater), ignitable (flash point of 140 F), reactive with water or acid, or toxic as determined by a special laboratory test. Mass Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) produced a flyer to help you HERE.


Q: Can the Board of Veterinary Medicine perform inspections on the weekend?

A: They have gone on-site on weekends.  However, they don’t perform random inspections on weekends as most places have limited hours or are closed then. On occasion, when they are investigating a specific allegation, they may go on a weekend if necessary. Source: Leija Meadows, Board Administration.


Q: Can I turn away a veterinary inspector?

A: The Board conducts impromptu Inspections. There is an automatic $500.00 fine to turn away a state veterinary inspector. Therefore, prepare your staff in the event of your absence. 

 

Q: Is a radiation license required for new x-ray machines?

A: Yes, you do need to obtain a license. What needs to happen is you will have to get a Shielding Design Package sent to you (if you call the RCP they will send it out). This package will let you know what needs to be submitted, which includes how the x-ray machine will be built in the facility. An inspection will then be done to make sure everything is safe and the machine was built according to what was submitted. There is also a fee involved in this process. (Learn more on the Mass Radiation Control website or contact 617-242-3053 (RadiationControl@massmail.state.ma.us).



Continuing Education

 

Q: How many hours of CE may I obtain online?

A: Licensed Veterinarians are required to complete a minimum of 15 continuining education credits per calendar year to renew a license. All credits can be obtained online but at least 9 must be "interactive" (instruction occurs live in real time and interaction occurs between the instructor and licensee). 6 online credits can be "non-interactive" (pre-recorded for home study). Read more HERE.


Q: Do I have any options if I am unable to complete the annual CE requirements needed to renew my license?

A: The Board may, at its discretion, fully waive or extend the deadline of the continuing education requirements for any licensee who, for reasons of health, disability, out of state military service, or undue hardship, cannot meet the requirements. Licensees shall submit such requests to the Board in writing. The Board can make exceptions/grant extensions under certain circumstances. Contact them directly to see if you are eligible: Phone 617-701-8723; Email vetmedboard@mass.govRead more HERE.


 

Prescriptions


Q: What information is required to be on prescription labels?

A: Read guidelines from the Board of Registration in Veterinary MedicineHEREYou can purchase tamper-resistant pads through Curry Printing. Click HERE to go to their order portal.

 

Q: Is a client allowed to take a prescription to whatever pharmacy he/she prefers?

A: Yes, at the request of a client a veterinarian shall provide prescription to the pharmacy of choice. A licensee shall provide prescription information to an off-site pharmacy or a written prescription to the client if requested. The prescription may be written or transmitted by any electronic means at the discretion of the prescribing licensee and in accordance with M.G.L. c. 94C. Read more HERE.

 

Q: Am I allowed to charge a fee to write a hard copy prescription for a client?

A: There is no federal law preventing your veterinarian from charging you a fee for their services and time invested in writing a prescription. Some veterinarians charge a nominal fee for writing prescriptions, but others don't. Individual states might have specific guidance for veterinarians on prescription fees. Read more HERE.

 

Q: I know in human pharmacy it is illegal in the state of Massachusetts to cut pills for clients. Does the same apply in the Veterinarian pharmacy?

A: Because splitting pills falls under the definition of “manufacturing,” you are not technically allowed to legally split pills. This is because splitting the pills would mean you are adjusting the dosage, which is not permitted. (Source: Adele Audet, MDPH, Drug Control program)

 

Q: Can veterinary clinics fill prescriptions for other veterinarians to use?

A: No, a veterinary clinic cannot act as a drug supplier for other veterinarians. (Source: Leija Meadows, Board Administration)

 

 

Q: What are the current regulations regarding prescribing Gabapentin? 

A: While the FDA has NOT changed the schedule of Gabapentin, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has added it to the list of drugs that must be reported to the Prescription Monitoring Program. While this does not affect veterinarians, it does affect pharmacies when dispensing Gabapentin. Read more HERE.



Controlled Substances  

 

Q: Can I keep a digital log of controlled substances in MA or does it have to be on paper?
A: Computerized logs are acceptable but you must be sure to do periodic spot checks for accuracy. You must be able to pull reports identifying date, client, patient, drug, and amount in the event you are inspected. The balance on hand need not be on the report but must be easily available for verification. The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine does not have additional requirements for digital logs and directs you to confer with Federal DEA regulations. See more in the article Keeping Controlled Drugs Under Control from VIN.


Q: 
Can Tramadol prescriptions be transmitted via fax?

A: Yes. On August 18, 2014, the DEA placed Tramadol into Schedule IV of the Controlled Substance Act.  As a Schedule IV medication, it is permissible to fax a prescription for Tramadol from a Physician/Veterinarians’ office to a pharmacy for filling. Read more HERE.

 

Q: Is there a limit to how much Tramadol can be prescribed at one time?

A: The prescription for Tramadol, as a controlled substance, may only be issued by an individual practitioner who is either registered with the DEA or exempt from registration. 21 CFR 1306.03. A prescription for a controlled substance must also be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the course of his professional practice. 21 CFR 1306.04(a)Upon the effective date of this rule, Tramadol prescriptions may be filled up to six months after the date prescribed, and may be refilled up to five times within six months after the date on which such prescription was issued. 21 U.S.C. 829(b)21 CFR 1306.22 (a) and (e); see also 21 CFR 1306.23 (b) and (c). In addition, there are no dosage unit limitations for prescriptions for schedule III, IV, or V controlled substances unless the controlled substance is prescribed for administration to an ultimate user who is institutionalized. 21 CFR 1306.24(c). Read more HERE.

 

  


Rabies

  

Q: Are there exemptions for an animal to be vaccinated?

A: (d) A licensing authority may grant an exemption from this section for a dog, cat or ferret that:

(i) the local board of health has declared exempt from the rabies vaccination requirement upon presentation of a veterinarian’s certificate stating that because of an infirmity, other physical condition or regimen of therapy, such inoculation is considered inadvisable for a specified period of time for such reasons; (ii) is in transit; or (iii) was brought into the commonwealth temporarily for the sole purpose of display in a show or for exhibition.

(e) This section shall not apply to a dog, cat or ferret housed in a research institution. 
The legitimate reasons for exemption relate to allergic reactions resulting in anaphylaxis, or some form of immune mediated disease. Mild reactions like rashes do not outweigh the public health significance of leaving an animal susceptible. Read more HERE.


Q: Can anyone other than a licensed veterinarian administer a rabies vaccination?

A: No, only a licensed veterinary can administer a rabies vaccination. Other vaccines can be given under the immediate supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Technically, a veterinarian may only administer rabies to an animal after a VCPR is established but because it is a public health issue the rules are a little more lenient. Read more HERE.

 

Q: Can an animal that was intended to be on a 3 year rabies series still do so if they did not receive the primary series?

A: Primary Series- First rabies shot given to an animal, always only good for one year. Next shot is given between 9-12 months. If the animal does not receive primary series, it will never be eligible for 3 year rabies vaccine regardless if it is meant to be for 3 years.


 

Microchips


Q: Do I need to directly supervise my assistant while he or she administers a microchip?

A: Microchipping pets is a veterinary procedure that should only be performed by a licensed veterinarian or under supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Read more HERE.  

  


Mobile and Relief Veterinarians

 

Q: I am a relief veterinarian and as such work at many practices. Am I required to carry a framed copy of my license with me and display it while I am working at each individual practice?

A: (1) Each veterinarian engaged in practice shall have all current required licenses, certificates and permits on display. This includes a copy of the license certificate to practice veterinary medicine in the Commonwealth, and any applicable certifications by AVMA specialty boards. (2) Each licensee practicing at a location where the display of certificates is not possible or practical shall have on his/her person a license card as proof that his/her license is current. Read more HERE.

 

Q: I employ a relief veterinarian in my practice to fill in for staff who are out on vacation or other types of extended leave. Do I have to pay them as an employee, or are they considered an independent contractor?

A: In Massachusetts, most people who work or provide services are considered employees under the law. There is a 3-part test for an employer who wants to treat someone as an independent contractor whereby you have to show that the work: 1) is done without the direction and control of the employer; and 2) is performed outside the usual course of the employer's business; and 3) is done by someone who has their own, independent business or trade doing that kind of work. Relief veterinarians generally perform the same work in the normal course of business as would the person they are filling in for, and so generally speaking, should be treated as an employee under the law. Read more HERE.


Complementary Medicine


Q: What is the protocol for chiropractic practice of non-human vertebrates?

A: It is not illegal for human chiropractor to administer care, but there are certain guidelines.

1) There must be a written referral/direct authorization from the animal's vet and;

2) The appointment cannot take place where the chiropractor works on humans.

Read more HERE.


Q: What are the guidelines for complementary and alternative veterinary medicine?

A: Read the guidelines HERE.

 
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