The term “duty of care” refers to the way in which you must interact with your clients and patients in order to satisfy the requirements of the law. For California veterinarians, this amounts to:
Since “current” veterinary practice standards are continuously evolving, the duty of care evolves as well.
When a veterinarian fails to meet the required standard of care, he or she may be guilty of “negligence.” In order to establish veterinary negligence, a plaintiff must show that:
1. A client brings her cat Lucy in for her annual shots. An inappropriately high dosage is administered, and the animal dies as a result. In this case, the client can sue for negligence because the veterinarian:
2. A client brings his dog Fido in for a checkup. After collecting the necessary information and obtaining consent to treatment, the veterinarian administers an appropriate heartworm prevention medication at the correct dosage. The animal has a severe and highly unusual reaction to the medication. In this case, the veterinarian is not guilty of negligence. Even though the veterinarian’s actions were a cause of the animal’s injuries, he or she was acting in accordance with accepted standards of care, and most other veterinarians would have made the same choices.