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Constrained in Kentucky

Constrained in Kentucky

Politics & Policy columnist Mark Cushing, in his analysis of abuse reporting laws in all 50 states, misstated the current state of abuse reporting in Kentucky [“Great expectations,” December 2017/January 2018]. He stated that Kentucky veterinarians have no requirement to report and no protection if they do.

In actuality, veterinarians here are prevented from reporting abuse if a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship exists except in the instances noted below in the Kentucky Revised Statutes.


Veterinarian-client-patient relationship

(3) (a) A veterinarian shall not violate the confidential relationship between the veterinarian and the veterinarian’s client.

(b) A veterinarian shall not release information concerning a client or care of a client’s animal, except on the veterinarian’s receipt of:

  1. A written authorization or other form of waiver executed by the client; or
  2. An appropriate court order or subpoena.

(c) A veterinarian who releases information under paragraph (b) of this subsection shall not be liable to any person, including the client, for an action resulting from the disclosure.

(d) The privilege provided by this subsection is waived by the client or the owner of an animal treated by the veterinarian to the extent the client or owner places at issue in a civil or criminal proceeding:

  1. The nature and extent of the animal’s injuries; or
  2. The care and treatment of the animal provided by the veterinarian.

This was an unintended consequence of a confidentiality law passed several years ago. The Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association has made numerous attempts to correct this problem, but thus far we have been stopped by forces within the state. It is an issue the KVMA continues to address.

Dr. Douglas R. Peterson is president of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association.

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