Covid Legal and Regulatory Changes


Veterinary Practices are Essential

Update 5/26/2020:
In March Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.6, requiring that all businesses in the state reduce their in-person workforce at any work location by 100 percent. Any “essential business,” is exempt from this requirement.

On May 25th the list of essential businesses was updated:

"Veterinary and livestock medical services" are exempt from restriction under order 202.6 Statewide.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All animal hospitals without exception are now required to:

  1. Read the 10-page applicable guidelines
  2. Affirm online that they have read them (see page 10 of the guidelines)
  3. Conspicuously post completed safety plans onsite

The safety plan should follow the template provided by NY State.


FDA VCPR Changes and Telehealth

The FDA has announced that it is suspending its VCPR requirements during the Covid19 crisis.

This has little impact on practice in NY State where the VCPR is not in statute but in the veterinary guidelines. Note that law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to guidelines may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations, some citations of which are listed at the end of the guidelines.

We are currently preparing a podcast that will explore this in detail but the key points are:

  • Although you may not be found guilty of malpractice for providing treatment without a VCPR, a civil suit could be brought against you. The court will look at the current standards applied in the industry, such as the New York State and AVMA guidance on establishing a VCPR. If you have not followed those standards you would need to have a strong and convincing argument that the treatment was provided in an emergency situation. For example during Covid-19 an argument could be made in some particularly high-risk situations that treatment was necessary without an in-person examination, but this should not be the norm even during Covid-19

  • The State Licensing Board will hold you accountable for following the guidelines wherever possible, and if there is a variation from the guidelines you will need to be able to present convincing arguments that it was necessary.

Can I prescribe medications via telehealth in NY State without seeing the patient in person?

This question is the jumping off point for an in-depth examination of telehealth platforms in the age of Covid-19.

We hear from NYSVMS lawyer, Frank Fanshawe, on the potential exposure to civil lawsuits and how to manage the risk. Dr. Doug Aspros, Chair of the NY State Board of Veterinary Medicine discusses what it means for VCPR to be in guidelines and not law. We also have two perspectives on how much value telemedicine brings to the profession, with Dr. Hilary Jones from Teletails, and Dr. Howard Gittelman another member of the Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Paid Sick Leave Laws - State and Federal

This NY Government site that has a great explanation, and can guide your employees through making their claim for Covid19 related family leave and workers compensation.
This button goes to an article by our legal advisors that explains how the new State and Federal regulations relate to one another
This button goes to a page we built early-on in the crisis to explain the new NYS laws and has some tables that could be helpful