California’s New Pet Medication Compliance Law

Recent changes to California law could have far-reaching effects on veterinary clinics across the U.S.

Watch our Facebook Live below with Dr. Mark Stephenson to learn more!

Under California’s revised Business and Professions Code, California veterinarians are now required to provide consultation to pet owners or their agents (either in person or through electronic means) each time a pet medication is initially provided or prescribed in an outpatient setting. Beyond California, veterinarians in Maryland report that this new law could soon be implemented there, as well as other U.S. states.

Here’s what “consultation” specifically means.

As part of consultation minimum requirements, California veterinarians must provide:

  • The name and description of a drug, including drug type and what it is used to treat.
  • Route of drug administration, dosage, and duration of drug therapy.
  • Common severe adverse effects associated with the use of a short-acting or long-acting drug.
  • Any special directions for proper use and storage.
  • Actions to be taken in the event of a missed dose.
  • Precautions and relevant warnings provided by a drug’s manufacturer, including common severe adverse effects of a drug.

This big change to the California Business and Professions Code was sparked by the unfortunate death of a Yorkshire terrier named Lizzie.

In 2015, Lizzie’s owner Solomon Stupp took his beloved pet to a veterinarian, who gave Lizzie a shot of a long-acting antibiotic for an infection, much like hundreds of pets across the U.S. receive every day. The problem was, Lizzie had kidney disease, and due to the long-duration nature of the antibiotic, Lizzie suffered irreversible complications and died.

In an interview with the Marin Independent Journal, Stupp said that he was not informed until later that the drug should not be given to dogs with kidney disease. His experience spurred him to form The Lizzie Initiative for Pet Protection to advocate for the legal requirement of veterinarians to consistently provide their clients with information about medications, including potential risks, side effects, and drug interactions. In 2016, Stupp testified at the California Veterinary Medical Board’s Sunset Review Oversight Hearing, and in September 2018, the Lizzie-inspired addition of Section 4829.5 to the Business and Professions Code was signed into law.

While veterinarians certainly understand the protective nature of the new law, the concern by veterinarians is that it will add 2-12 minutes to each appointment with verbal explanations. Added to this, veterinary teams will spend more time updating patient records if a consultation is provided or declined, and clinics must provide a paper copy of the consultation information if clients ask for it.

To solve the issue of meeting pet medication compliance law and saving time, more veterinarians are now turning to ClientEd, LifeLearn’s one-of-a-kind online client education library.

With more than 2,000 illustrated pet health articles written and reviewed by animal health experts, ClientEd includes 194 ready-to-use pet medication handouts for clients that cover the consultation requirements now required by California law. Of these, LifeLearn has added 27 pet medication articles over the past year, and 30 additional articles will be added in the next few weeks.

LifeLearn’s animal health experts use a variety of sources for their pet medication articles, including Saunders Handbook of Veterinary Drugs and Plumb’s Veterinary Drugs, among others.

Unlike a lot of veterinary handouts that can cause confusion for pet owners with information that’s too long and technical, ClientEd articles are written in plain language, making them easily understood by pet owners. ClientEd also integrates easily with most practice management systems or can be used on its own. So, you can access articles from your existing software and place them right into the hands of pet owners either pre- or post-appointment.

Discover more about ClientEd

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