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RULES AND REGULATIONS

Title 49--PROFESSIONAL AND VOCATIONAL STANDARDS

STATE BOARD OF VETERINARY MEDICINE

[49 PA. CODE CH. 31]

Certified Veterinary Technician Specialists

[37 Pa.B. 3365]
[Saturday, July 21, 2007]

   The State Board of Veterinary Medicine (Board) amends §§ 31.1 and 31.38 (relating to definitions; and code of ethics for certified veterinary technicians) to read as set forth in Annex A. The final-form rulemaking defines a veterinary technician specialist (VTS) as a certified veterinary technician (CVT) who holds current certification from a specialty organization recognized by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). In addition, the final-form rulemaking prohibits a CVT from making false, deceptive or misleading statements or claims, including representation that the CVT is a specialist or a VTS unless appropriately qualified.

Effective Date

   The final-form rulemaking will be effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Statutory Authority

   Section 11 of the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act (63 P. S. § 485.11) authorizes the Board ''to promulgate by regulation the qualifications and requirements for the certification and regulation of veterinary techni- cians . . . to provide for disciplinary action and . . . [to] prescribe the grounds for such action.'' This final-form rulemaking regulates the qualifications and conduct of veterinary technicians and, through § 31.39(1) (relating to grounds for disciplinary proceedings), provides for disciplinary action against a CVT for violations of these regulations.

Background and Purpose of the Final-Form Rulemaking

   Over the past several years, it has become increasingly common for CVTs to obtain specialized education and training in a specialty area beyond the minimum education required for certification. In addition, it has become increasingly common for CVTs to hold themselves out to the public and coworkers as specialists. This final-form rulemaking is intended to protect the public from being mislead by CVTs who hold themselves out as specialists unless they have been granted specialist status by a National accrediting body that ensures the competence of the CVT in a particular area.

Summary of Comments and the Board's Response

   Notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 36 Pa.B. 1240 (March 18, 2006). The Board received one public comment submitted jointly by the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and the Veterinary Technicians and Assistants Association of Pennsylvania, which indicated that both of these organizations fully supported the rulemaking.

   The House Professional Licensure Committee (HPLC) and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) provided comments as part of their review of the proposed rulemaking. Both the HPLC and IRRC asked for specific information regarding what acts other than representing oneself as a specialist would qualify as making a false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim. In response to this question, the Board has added a cross-reference to Principle 5(a) of § 31.21 (relating to Rules of Professional Conduct for Veterinarians), which contains a definition of ''false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim.''

   The HPLC asked for detailed information regarding the Board's statement that this final-form rulemaking was a necessary precursor to another proposed rulemaking. The Board is in the process of drafting proposed rulemaking regarding dental practice on animals. Veterinary dentistry is one of the three veterinary technician specialties currently recognized by NAVTA. The Board intends to propose a broader scope of practice for a VTS who is a specialist in dentistry. Therefore, this final-form rulemaking is necessary to make it clear that the broader scope of practice would apply only to CVTs who have been granted certification by the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

   IRRC also noted that the Board did not define the term ''veterinary technician specialist'' or ''VTS.'' In the final-form rulemaking, the Board has added a definition of ''VTS-veterinary technician specialist'' to § 31.1.

Description of the Amendments

   Section 31.1 has been amended by adding a definition of ''VTS--veterinary technician specialist'' as ''a certified veterinary technician who holds current certification from a specialty organization recognized by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).''

   Section 31.38 has been amended to prohibit a CVT from making a false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim. Amendments to the final-form rulemaking clarify that a false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim includes those items identified in Principle 5(a) of § 31.21, as well as any representation that the CVT is a specialist or a VTS, unless the CVT holds a current certification from a specialty organization recognized by NAVTA.

Fiscal Impact and Paperwork Requirements

   The final-form rulemaking should not have financial impact on licensees or other State entities. The final-form rulemaking will have no fiscal impact on the public. The final-form rulemaking may have a small fiscal impact on the Board regarding additional disciplinary matters if technicians violate a regulation. There are no additional paperwork requirements associated with the final-form rulemaking.

Sunset Date

   The Board continuously monitors its regulations. Therefore, no sunset date has been assigned.

Regulatory Review

   Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on March 8, 2006, the Board submitted a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking, published at 36 Pa.B. 1240, to IRRC and the Chairpersons of the HPLC and the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee (SCP/PLC) for review and comment.

   Under section 5(c) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC, the HPLC and the SCP/PLC were provided with copies of the comments received during the public comment period, as well as other documents when requested. In preparing the final-form rulemaking, the Board has considered all comments from IRRC, the HPLC, the SCP/PLC and the public.

   Under section 5.1(j.2) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5a(j.2)), on May 23, 2007, the final-form rulemaking was approved by the HPLC. On June 6, 2007, the final-form rulemaking was deemed approved by the SCP/PLC. Under section 5.1(e) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC met on June 7, 2007, and approved the final-form rulemaking.

Findings

   The Board finds that:

   (1)  Public notice of proposed rulemaking was given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202), and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

   (2)  A public comment period was provided as required by law and all comments were considered.

   (3)  This final-form rulemaking is necessary and appropriate for administering and enforcing the authorizing act identified in this preamble.

Order

   The Board, acting under its authorizing statute, orders that:

   (a)  The regulations of the Board, 49 Pa. Code Chapter 31, are amended by amending §§ 31.1 and 31.38 to read as set forth in Annex A.

   (Editor's Note: The amendment of § 31.1 was not included in the proposed rulemaking published at 36 Pa.B. 1240.)

   (b)  The Board shall submit this order and Annex A to the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Attorney General as required by law.

   (c)  The Board shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

   (d)  This order shall take effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

THOMAS J. MCGRATH, D.V.M.,   
Chairperson

   (Editor's Note: For the text of the order of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, relating to this document, see 37 Pa.B. 2909 (June 23, 2007).)

   Fiscal Note:  Fiscal Note 16A-5716 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

Annex A

TITLE 49. PROFESSIONAL AND VOCATIONAL STANDARDS

PART I. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Subpart A. PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL AFFAIRS

CHAPTER 31. STATE BOARD OF VETERINARY MEDICINE

GENERAL PROVISIONS

§ 31.1. Definitions.

   The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

   Act--The Veterinary Medicine Practice Act (63 P. S. §§ 485.1--485.33).

   Advertising--Newspaper and periodical announcements and listings, professional cards, office and other signs, letterheads, telephone and other directory listings, and other forms of communication designed to inform the public about the availability, nature or prices of products or services.

   Animal abuse--The wanton or cruel treatment of an animal, including overworking, beating or otherwise neglecting an animal.

   Approved school--A school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, including provisionally, probationally and fully accredited programs.

   Board--The State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

   Certified veterinary technician--A veterinary technician certified by the Board.

   Client--A person who engages the professional services of a veterinarian for the care and treatment or the prevention, cure or alleviation of disease or injury, of an animal.

   Consultation--A deliberation between two or more licensed veterinarians or a licensed veterinarian and other licensed professional concerning the diagnosis of an animal's condition, the care to be provided and the proper management of the case.

   Direct veterinary supervision--A veterinarian has given either oral or written instructions to the certified veterinary technician or noncertified employee, is on the premises and is easily and quickly available to assist the certified veterinary technician or the noncertified employee.

   Endorsement or testimonial--A statement of recommendation made through a form of mass communication or correspondence by a veterinarian to the general public which is commercially rather than educationally motivated and is intended to influence attitudes regarding the purchase of a veterinary drug, device, product or procedure.

   Immediate veterinary supervision--A veterinarian is in visual and audible range to assist the noncertified employee.

   Indirect veterinary supervision--A veterinarian is not on the premises but is acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal by virtue of an examination of the animal or medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept, and has given written or oral instructions to the certified veterinary technician for treatment of the animal patient.

   Merchandising--Buying and selling of professional veterinary products without a veterinarian/client relationship.

   Neglect--To abandon an animal or deprive an animal over which one has a duty of care, whether belonging to himself or otherwise, of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter or veterinary care or access to sanitary shelter which will protect the animal against inclement weather, preserve the animal's normal temperature and keep it dry.

   Noncertified employee--An employee of a veterinarian who does not hold certification as a veterinary technician and whom the veterinarian deems competent to administer medication or render auxiliary or supporting assistance under direct veterinary supervision or immediate veterinary supervision.

   Professional veterinary product--One which requires professional veterinary knowledge in the administration of or in the giving of instructions for safe and proper use of the product, including prescription drugs, biologicals, pharmaceuticals and prescription diets.

   Solicitation--Advertising intentionally directed to specific individuals.

   VTS--Veterinary technician specialist--A certified veterinary technician who holds current certification from a specialty organization recognized by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).

   Veterinarian--A licensed doctor of veterinary medicine as defined in section 3 of the act (63 P. S. § 485.3).

VETERINARY TECHNICIANS AND NONCERTIFIED EMPLOYEES

§ 31.38. Code of ethics for certified veterinary technicians.

   (a)  The certificate of a certified veterinary technician will only be valid for use when the holder is in the employ of or under the supervision of a veterinarian licensed in this Commonwealth.

   (b)  The holder of a certificate may not accept a direct fee for services rendered as a certified veterinary technician from other than the certificateholders' employer.

   (c)  A certified veterinary technician may not compromise the confidentiality of the doctor-client relationship.

   (d)  A certified veterinary technician who deals or communicates directly with a client shall explain to the client that the certified veterinary technician is not a veterinarian.

   (e)  A certified veterinary technician shall be responsible to the client and to the veterinarian in the following respects:

   (1)  To undertake only what the veterinarian authorizes or directs.

   (2)  To perform the veterinary technician's work only in the manner directed by the veterinarian and to employ the veterinary technician's best care and skill in performing all work for the veterinarian. The veterinary technician may not undertake any work which the veterinary technician is not capable of performing satisfactorily.

   (f)  A certified veterinary technician may not undertake an assignment that the certificateholder is not capable of performing.

   (g)  A certified veterinary technician may not make a false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim. A false, deceptive or misleading statement or claim includes the statements and claims defined in Principle 5(a) of § 31.21 (relating to Rules of Professional Conduct for Veterinarians) and any representation that the certified veterinary technician is a specialist, or a VTS, unless the certified veterinary technician holds current certification from a specialty organization recognized by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 07-1274. Filed for public inspection July 20, 2007, 9:00 a.m.]



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