In this issue of Bovine Veterinarian the cover story is about “best practices” and drug use on the dairy. If you are a beef veterinarian, you might be tempted to skip an article with “dairy” in the title, but the core issues in this piece apply across the board, no matter what type of cattle you work with.

In today’s changing environment of increasing regulations and agricultural practices that are under the activists’ and consumers’ microscopes, veterinarians may want to revisit some of the principles and regulations they work under such as AMDUCA, their state’s practice act, valid veterinary-client-patient relationships (VCPRs), use of technicians, extralabel drug use and more.

When there is a residue or food safety problem, authorities and even society doesn’t just look at the producer anymore — they are looking at your role in the problem as well. With our increasingly litigious society, it behooves veterinarians to document everything they do regarding patient relationships, protocols and drugs dispensed.

“It’s important for practitioners to understand the regulations related to VCPRs, AMDUCA, technicians, etc. for all of these reasons,” says American Association of Bovine Practitioners President Charlie Hatcher, DVM, College Grove, Tenn.

In the article, Paul Rapnicki, DVM, MBA, discusses a unique program that the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine has put together to help veterinarians gain a better understanding of their role in these issues, and it offers templates to guide veterinarians in better documentation on the Minnesota Dairy Best Practices Web site. Though produced with the dairy veterinarian in mind, there is no reason beef cattle veterinarians can’t also benefit from this information. “Dairy veterinarians face a future relating to drug use on dairies that will likely be quite different than the past or even much of the present situation,” says Rapnicki. “To that end, new approaches are needed that can make it efficient for dairy veterinarians to develop science and good practices-based specifications for drug use on dairies and to oversee both the type and extent of use on those dairies for which they have the VCPR responsibility.”

Another thing to consider is the role your technicians play. Jim Brett, DVM, serves on the Georgia Veterinary Medical Board and advises practitioners to carefully examine their state’s practice act to make sure technicians and other assistants are performing tasks according to your state’s regulations.

“Practicing veterinary medicine, including prescribing drugs and use of technicians, is a privilege,” states Hatcher. “Rural veterinarians are a very integral part of a community and highly respected. The community trusts us do the right thing for them, especially when it comes to food safety, antibiotic usage and animal welfare. We must continue to earn the trust they have placed in us by having appropriate VCPRs, good record keeping, prudent antimicrobial usage and appropriate technician utilization or face losing these privileges.”