Skip to content

5. Communication between professional colleagues

Updated 19 June 2017


5.1  Overtly poor relationships between veterinary surgeons and/or veterinary nurses undermine public confidence in the whole profession.

5.2  Veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses should not speak or write disparagingly about another veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse. Colleagues should be treated fairly, without discrimination and with respect, in all situations and in all forms of communication.

5.3  Veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses should liaise with colleagues where more than one veterinary surgeon has responsibility for the care of a group of animals. Relevant clinical information / information in the interest of the treatment of the animal should be provided promptly to colleagues taking over responsibility for a case and proper documentation should be provided for all referral or re-directed cases. Cases should be referred responsibly.

[Clinical and client records] [Referrals and second opinions]

5.4  Clients should not be obstructed from changing to another veterinary practice and should not be discouraged from seeking a second opinion.

Taking over a colleague’s case

5.5  Although both veterinary surgeon and client have freedom of choice, in the interests of the welfare of the animals involved, a veterinary surgeon should not knowingly take over a colleague's case without informing the colleague in question and obtaining a clinical history.

5.6  When an animal is initially presented, a veterinary surgeon should ask whether the animal is already receiving veterinary attention or treatment and, if so, when it was last seen; then, contact the original veterinary surgeon for a case history. It should be made clear to the client that this is necessary in the interests of the patient. If the client refuses to provide information, the case should be declined.

5.7  In an emergency, it is acceptable to make an initial assessment and administer any essential treatment before contacting the original veterinary surgeon.

5.8 There is no requirement to seek express consent from the client each time a history is requested by a superseding practice.  This is because superseding practices should inform the client that they will be requesting the history from the initial practice and therefore there is an implied consent.  Practices may however choose to verify the request with the client as a matter of policy or in circumstances where there are reasons to question the legitimacy of the request.  Whatever the situation, clients should not be obstructed from changing practices and any policies to verify requests with clients should not cause unnecessary delays to ongoing care.

Mutual clients

5.9  Where different veterinary surgeons are treating the same animal, or group of animals, each should keep the other informed of any relevant clinical information, so as to avoid any danger that might arise from conflicting advice, or adverse reactions arising from unsuitable combinations of medicines.

5.10  Even where two veterinary surgeons are treating different groups of animals owned by the same client, it is still advisable for each to keep the other informed of any problem that might affect their work.