Guidelines of the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria
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Behaviours and principles of professional conduct

The Board views professional conduct as more than the possession and appropriate application of technical knowledge and skills. The standard of service provision by veterinary practitioners is perceived by the way in which they engage and interact with:
  • the owner of the animal receiving veterinary services
  • the animal receiving veterinary services
  • their professional peers, and
  • the general public.

The behavioural attributes of veterinary practitioners set out below describe the approach to conduct and decision-making expected of a registered veterinary practitioner. The principles of professional conduct set out below guide the delivery of veterinary services.

The Board also expects owners who are engaging with veterinary practitioners to behave with honesty, integrity and respect.

Further guidance on expected behaviours and principles of professional conduct is contained in individual guidelines.

Behavioural attributes of veterinary practitioners

1.1 A veterinary practitioner is honest in their professional and commercial dealings.
1.2 A veterinary practitioner considers alternative approaches for each specific situation and effectively communicates those options without prejudice.
1.3 A veterinary practitioner respects the confidentiality and privacy of their interactions with owners irrespective of whether the owner is a casual or a longer-term recipient of their veterinary services.
2.1 A veterinary practitioner maintains their own health and wellbeing and takes steps to modify their practice if issues arise that may impact their performance and judgement.
2.2 A veterinary practitioner recognises the limits in their own knowledge and experience and seeks appropriate advice to inform their decision-making when needed.
2.3 While it is appropriate to seek advice from other veterinary practitioners or appropriate experts, a veterinary practitioner remains accountable for their own decisions and actions, irrespective of the expertise of the veterinary practitioner or professional contacted for advice.
2.4 A veterinary practitioner’s accountability remains constant irrespective of the setting in which they deliver their veterinary services.
2.5 A veterinary practitioner complies with the Guidelines irrespective of whether or not they are charging fees for the services provided.
3.1 A veterinary practitioner has due regard for the welfare, beliefs, perceptions, customs and cultural heritage of animal owners, veterinary team members and professional peers. 
3.2 A veterinary practitioner makes professional judgements in the best interests of an individual animal and is empathetic to the animal’s environment and relationship to their owner. 
3.3 A veterinary practitioner provides sufficient, clear and accurate information to enable an individual who is making decisions about the animal’s wellbeing to provide informed consent for a veterinary service.

Principles of professional conduct

1.1 The wellbeing of an animal is central in a veterinary practitioner’s decision-making in the provision of veterinary services (See Guideline 2: Animal Wellbeing).
2.1 A veterinary practitioner delivers veterinary services in a manner that ensures the present and future health and safety of the owner and their animal, their staff, their peers, the general public and the environment.
2.2 A veterinary practitioner uses, prescribes and supplies medications in a manner that mitigates long-term adverse impacts such as environmental contamination and the build-up of antibiotic resistance.
3.1 A veterinary practitioner remains current in their knowledge and uses scientifically based processes where available in their veterinary practice. 
3.2 A veterinary practitioner demonstrates their commitment to the continuous improvement of their service through timely adoption of improved techniques, equipment and technology and regular participation in continuing professional development. 
4.1 The environment, equipment and assistance used in providing veterinary services is appropriate for the procedure that is undertaken. 
4.2 Contemporary scientific knowledge underpins veterinary practice and informs a veterinary practitioner’s decision-making in relation to all aspects of their veterinary services, including the assessment and maintenance of animal health and wellbeing. 
5.1 A veterinary practitioner understands and complies with current legal and regulatory obligations impacting their delivery of veterinary services. 
5.2 A veterinary practitioner maintains accurate and comprehensive records of their veterinary services.
6.1 Policies and procedures of businesses, agencies and not-for-profit organisations which employ or engage registered veterinary practitioners enable the veterinary practitioner to provide veterinary services that preserve and protect animal wellbeing. 
6.2 A veterinary practitioner receives appropriate support, guidance and assistance from the business, agency or not-for-profit organisation that employs or engages them. 
6.3 A veterinary practitioner works collaboratively with other members of the veterinary team to coordinate the care of animals and the delivery of veterinary services.

Date of publication
In effect from 1 May 2021.

This material is current only at the time of publication and may be changed from time to time. The Board reviews and updates the Guidelines on a continuous basis to reflect changes in the science and knowledge base underpinning contemporary veterinary practice. The Board will take reasonable steps to inform the veterinary profession when such updates are released but it remains the responsibility of the individual veterinary practitioner to ensure that their knowledge and application of these Guidelines to their own practice is current.

While the Board has made every effort to ensure that the material in these Guidelines is correct in law, it shall not be liable to any veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity in relation to any claim, action or proceeding whatsoever (whether in contract, negligence or other tort or in proceedings seeking any other form of legal or equitable remedy or relief) for any inadequacy, error or mistake, or for any deficiency in the whole or any part of this document (including any updates incorporated in the document from time to time), and a veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity acting upon the contents of this document acknowledges and accepts that this is the basis upon which the Board has produced these Guidelines and made it available to such person or entity.