Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 18. Professional And Occupational Licensing
Agency 150. Board of Veterinary Medicine
Chapter 20. Regulations Governing the Practice of Veterinary Medicine

18VAC150-20-174. Prescribing of controlled substances for pain or chronic conditions.

A. Evaluation of the patient and need for prescribing a controlled substance for pain.

1. For the purposes of this section, a controlled substance shall be a Schedules II through V drug, as set forth in the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq. of the Code of Virginia), which contains an opioid, to include tramadol and buprenorphine.

2. Nonpharmacologic and non-opioid treatment for pain shall be given consideration prior to treatment with opioids. Prior to initiating treatment with a controlled substance, as defined, the prescriber shall perform a history and physical examination appropriate to the complaint and conduct an assessment of the patient's history as part of the initial evaluation.

3. If a controlled substance is necessary for treatment of pain, the veterinarian shall prescribe it in the lowest effective dose appropriate to the size and species of the animal for the least amount of time. The initial dose shall not exceed a 14-day supply.

B. If the prescribing is within the accepted standard of care, a veterinarian may prescribe a controlled substance containing an opioid for management of pain, terminal illnesses, or certain chronic conditions, such as chronic heart failure, chronic bronchitis, osteoarthritis, collapsing trachea, or related conditions.

1. For prescribing a controlled substance for management of pain after the initial 14-day prescription, the patient shall be seen and evaluated for the continued need for an opioid. For the prescribing of a controlled substance for terminal illnesses or certain chronic conditions, it is not required to see and reevaluate the patient for prescribing beyond 14 days.

2. For any prescribing of a controlled substance beyond 14 days, the veterinarian shall develop a treatment plan for the patient, which shall include measures to be used to determine progress in treatment, further diagnostic evaluations or modalities that might be necessary, and the extent to which the pain or condition is associated with impairment.

3. For continued prescribing of a controlled substance, the patient shall be seen and reevaluated at least every six months, and the justification for such prescribing documented in the patient record.

C. Prior to prescribing or dispensing a controlled substance, the veterinarian shall document a discussion with the owner about the responsibility for the security of the drug and proper disposal of any unused drug.

D. Continuation of treatment with controlled substances shall be supported by documentation of continued benefit from the prescribing. If the patient's progress is unsatisfactory, the veterinarian shall assess the appropriateness of continued use of the current treatment plan and consider the use of other therapeutic modalities.

E. The medical record for prescribing controlled substances shall include signs or presentation of the pain or condition, a presumptive diagnosis for the origin of the pain or condition, an examination appropriate to the complaint, a treatment plan, and the medication prescribed to include the date, type, dosage, and quantity prescribed.

Statutory Authority

§ 54.1-2400 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 23, eff. August 8, 2018.

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