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Table 1 Expectations and responsibilities of first opinion (referring) and specialist (referral) veterinarians

From: Challenges facing the veterinary profession in Ireland: 1. clinical veterinary services

First Opinion (referring) Vet Specialist (referral) Vet
A client should never be discouraged or prevented from obtaining a second opinion or referral. Specialists have a responsibility to determine whether particular patients should or should not be referred for a second opinion.
Patients’ records should be written legibly or typed and medical errors should be documented. The specialist has a responsibility to communicate the status of patient to the referring vet.
Clients have an ethical and/or legal right to their animals’ medical records, and these should be voluntarily provided in a timely fashion on request. Specialty practices should consider calling the day before to request records on any patient that is being referred and for which there is not yet referral information
Every effort should be made to provide this information so that it is readily available at the time of the initial referral. Specialists have a responsibility to educate referring veterinarians in cases when they believe animals may or should have been managed differently.
First opinion vets should respect the time of the specialist they consult and not attempt to manage a case by telephone when referral would be a wiser course. Specialists have a responsibility to consider referral to another hospital if they are unable to obtain a definitive diagnosis or effect successful treatment.
  1. Adapted from Block and Ross [7]