Veterinary Technician Scope of Practice Bill advances out of committee

Colorado bills to address veterinary care pass Joint Committee

Released for publication: 11-1-2023 by Representative Karen McCormick, DVM (D), Longmont

Colorado State Rep. Karen McCormick, DVM (D)Longmont, introduced Bill 1-Veterinary Technician Scope of Practice and Bill 7-Veterinary Telehealth Act. Both bills were voted out of the bipartisan joint chamber Water Resources and Agriculture Review committee on October 31. Rep. McCormick is presently the Vice Chair of the committee. The vote on both bills was unanimous in the ten member committee.

Bill 1 recognizes that veterinary technicians are essential team members and critical to addressing the health and welfare needs of the animals of Colorado. Bill 1 will open up the veterinary care delivery model to reach more animals and help address the pressures on the veterinary workforce. The bill will highlight advanced career pathways for veterinary technicians.

To elevate the veterinary technician profession, this bill will expand the definition of supervision levels to give more flexibility for veterinary teams. It adds levels of supervision associated with listed tasks as a permissive guide for veterinarians to fully utilize their veterinary technicians and other team members. The bill elevates the Veterinary Technician Specialist, or VTS, to be able to do more under the veterinarian’s indirect supervision following certain guidelines. Veterinary Technician Specialists have the training, experience, and credentialing to fill the mid-level role that many have talked about in recent years. The Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine will write rules and guidelines to further carry out the legislative intent of this policy.

Bill 7 concerns the use of telehealth to provide veterinary services and defines different types of telehealth tools that can be used in a veterinary practice. The bill specifies that part of establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) the veterinarian must initially conduct an in-person physical examination. Currently, Colorado law only says that the veterinarian has conducted an examination of the animal as part of establishing a VCPR. Adding this language adds Colorado to the growing list of other states that are making it clear that state statute matches FDA guidelines for creating the VCPR. This is important when it comes to the need to prescribe medications via telehealth.

In addition, the bill would extend the VCPR to other licensed veterinarians who share the same physical premises as the veterinarian who established the relationship if the other veterinarians have access to and have reviewed the animal’s medical records.

Veterinary telehealth has the potential to open up access to care in many ways. The ability to create more appointment space in hospitals by doing more follow-up cases via telehealth will ease any backlog of patients that may be waiting to get in to see their veterinarian. Tele-triage and tele-advice tools can be used in urgent situations without a VCPR to make sure clients have timely information in decision-making for their animals.

The two bills will next be introduced when the 2024 Legislative Session opens in January and go through the same process as all other bills.

For more information, please contact Rep. Karen McCormick
[email protected]      


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