01 April 2015

Cats: Vaccines and Veterinarian Liability

I only summarized this article because some times when a cat has a reaction to a vaccine, the owner immediately wants to sue the vet.  This article, The Potential for Liability in the Use and Misuse of Veterinary Vaccines by Duane Flemming, DVM, JD (p 515-523 in Vol 31, No 3, Vet. Cl. of NA: Small Animal Practice, May 2001) clearly explains what a vet legally can and cannot do with regards to liability and vaccines.

Basically, a vet's liability regarding vaccines comes down to 3 questions:
1. Did the vet use the vaccine in accordance with standard veterinary practice?  Do other vets reasonably use it that way?  This does not mean the vet followed the labeling guidelines, but that he followed common practice.

2. Did he obtain informed consent?  Did he tell the owner that there was a risk of adverse reactions?  The owner should have been made aware of what the benefits and risks of the vaccines are and if there are options.

3. Did the vet provide undue warranty?  Did he claim that the vaccine was 100% effective?  Basically, no vaccine is 100% effective for all cats.  For example, the calicivirus vaccine lessens the infection but does not prevent it.

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