Veterinary Telemedicine Now More Accessible
While people have been increasingly able to access healthcare through phone or video chat during the coronavirus pandemic, the same can’t be said for animals. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it would temporarily refrain from enforcing certain requirements in order to allow veterinarians to treat animals’ health needs via telemedicine.
“This pandemic has had impacts on many of our everyday lives and professions, and during this time, we need to provide veterinarians with the latitude to expand the use of telemedicine in the care of animals, not only pets but also the animals that produce our food," said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. in a press release.
The FDA usually requires veterinarians to examine animals in-person or visit the location where the animals are kept in order to provide treatment. These regulations are considered part of the professional relationship between the veterinarian, the animal caretaker and the animal patient.
However, the FDA has decided to suspend enforcement of these requirements so veterinarians can assess animals’ health and well being through video conferencing and other telemedicine methods. They will also be able to prescribe necessary medication without physically examining the animal.
The new FDA policy will make it safer and less difficult for pet parents to get medical help for their animal companions. The measure is designed to help keep the outbreak from spreading further by making it easier for people to stay in their homes and limiting human-to-human contact, according to the FDA.
"The FDA is providing flexibility that will help veterinarians maintain the health of animals during the pandemic, while allowing for the social distancing that is so important in limiting the further spread of coronavirus disease across the country and the world,” Hahn said.