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AVMA Executive Board Adds Language To Association Policy Calling For "Owner Consent" In Veterinary Medicine

November 05, 2017

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Executive Board moved to change the language in all AVMA documents, policies and references recommending that all veterinary procedures be done only with full and clear "owner consent."

This new term, "owner consent," replaces the term "informed consent." The language change better conveys that pet owners must be supplied with "sufficient information in a form and manner that enables owners ... to make appropriate decisions when choosing the veterinary care needed for their animals."

"It's very important that the Association clear up any confusion in its policies over the importance of clear and open communication in the relationship between veterinarians and their clients. The previous term 'informed consent' was a problem because it is derived from the "informed consent doctrine" in human medicine, and therefore contains principles not applicable or appropriate for veterinary medicine." said Dr. Rosemary LoGiudice, Director of the Membership and Field Services Division at the AVMA. "The language change does not fundamentally change the meaning of this AVMA policy, recommending that the owners of animals be informed fully and clearly, but the new term 'owner consent' more clearly defines that principle."

The new terminology also reinforces the AVMA's stance on the legal status of animals. An animal's owner, or the owner's authorized agent, should make decisions on and consent to the veterinary care of their animals after their veterinarian has provided sufficient information to do so, Dr. LoGiudice explained.

The AVMA and its more than 75,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the scince and art of animal, human and public health.

American Veterinary Medical Association