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3713Ratification Number: 538Act Number: 457Introducing Body: HouseSubject: Relating to veterinarians
(A457, R538, H3713)
AN ACT TO AMEND ARTICLE 1, CHAPTER 69, TITLE 40, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO VETERINARIANS SO AS TO FURTHER PROVIDE FOR THE REGULATION AND LICENSING OF THE PRACTICE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE, FOR THE COMPOSITION OF THE STATE BOARD OF VETERINARY MEDICAL EXAMINERS, FOR THE POWERS, DUTIES AND FUNCTIONS OF THE BOARD, FOR THE FEES CHARGED BY THE BOARD, FOR THE LIABILITY OF MEMBERS OF THE BOARD AND THE AGENTS AND EMPLOYEES THEREOF, AND FOR THE AUTHORIZED PENALTIES FOR CERTAIN VIOLATIONS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Regulation and licensing of the practice of veterinary medicine
SECTION 1. Article 1, Chapter 69, Title 40 of the 1976 Code, as amended by Act 40 of 1983, is further amended to read:
Section 40-69-10. It is hereby declared that the practice of veterinary medicine involves the public health, safety, and welfare. To protect the public from being misled by incompetent, unscrupulous, unqualified, and unauthorized practitioners, and from unprofessional or illegal practices by persons licensed to practice veterinary medicine, and to insure that every person engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine meet minimum requirements, the practice of veterinary medicine should be regulated in the interest of the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of South Carolina.
The General Assembly declares its intent that individuals who are not normally competent to practice veterinary medicine or who otherwise present danger to the public should be disciplined or prohibited from practicing in this State.
Section 40-69-20. As used in this article these words and phrases have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(1) "Animal" means any animal other than a human, and includes fowl, birds, reptiles, and fish which are wild or domestic, living or dead.
(2) "Board" means the South Carolina State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.
(3) "Veterinary medicine" includes veterinary surgery, obstetrics, dentistry, and all other branches or specialties of veterinary medicine.
(4) "Practice of veterinary medicine" means:
(a) To diagnose, prescribe, or administer any drug, medicine, biologic, appliance, or application or treatment of whatever nature for the cure, prevention, or relief of any wound, fracture, or bodily injury or disease of an animal;
(b) To perform any surgical operation, including cosmetic surgery, upon any animal;
(c) To perform any manual procedure for the diagnosis or treatment for sterility or infertility of animals, including embryo transplants;
(d) To offer, undertake, represent, or hold oneself out as being qualified to diagnose, treat, operate, or prescribe for any animal disease, pain, injury, deformity, or physical condition; and
(e) To use any words, letters, or titles in such connection or under such circumstances as to induce the belief that the person using them is engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine; this use is prima facie evidence of the intention to represent oneself as engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine.
(5) "Veterinarian" means a person who has received a doctor's degree or equivalent in veterinary medicine.
(6) "Licensed veterinarian" means a person who is licensed by law to practice veterinary medicine in this State.
(7) "School of veterinary medicine" means any veterinary school or college that offers the DVM or equivalent degree and whose course of study conforms to the standards required for accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association and approved by the Board.
(8) "License" means any permit, approval, registration, or certificate issued by the Board.
(9) "Temporary permit" means temporary permission to practice veterinary medicine issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
(10) "Direct supervision" means that a veterinarian currently licensed to practice veterinary medicine in this State is available on the premises and within immediate vocal communication of the supervisee.
(11) "Unprofessional or unethical conduct" includes, but is not limited to, any conduct of a character likely to deceive or defraud the public, fraudulent, false, or deceptive advertising which might mislead the public, obtaining any fee or compensation by fraud or misrepresentation, sharing office space with any person illegally practicing veterinary medicine, employing either directly or indirectly any unlicensed person to practice veterinary medicine or render any veterinary service except as allowed by law, or the violation of any rule adopted by the Board which provides for a code of professional ethics to be followed by persons licensed under this article.
Section 40-69-30. There is created the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (board) to be composed of eight members, one of whom must be a consumer advocate member from the State at large, one of whom must be a veterinarian from the State at large, and six of whom must be veterinarians representing each of the six Congressional Districts.
Each veterinarian must be a resident of the State of South Carolina and of the Congressional District which he represents, licensed by the State, and practicing. The consumer advocate member must be a resident of the State.
The terms of the members must be for six years and until successors are appointed and qualify. No member must be allowed successive terms of office.
The veterinarian at large and consumer advocate member must be appointed by the Governor. The South Carolina Veterinarians' Association shall conduct an election to nominate two veterinarians to represent any Congressional District when the seat is vacant. The election shall provide for participation by all veterinarians currently licensed and residing in South Carolina. The names of the nominees must be forwarded to the Governor by the association and the Governor shall appoint one of the nominees as the member. The Governor may reject any or all of the nominees upon satisfactory showing as to the unfitness of those rejected. If the Governor declines to appoint any of the nominees so submitted, additional nominees must be submitted in the same manner.
Vacancies must be filled in the manner of the original appointment for the unexpired portion of the term.
The consumer advocate member must be exempt from voting on examination for licensure of veterinarians.
The Governor may remove any member of the board who has been guilty of continued neglect of his duties or who is found to be incompetent, unprofessional, or dishonorable. No member may be removed without first giving him an opportunity to refute the charges filed against him. He must be given a copy of the charges at the time they are filed.
If a board member is disqualified and his absence results in the lack of a quorum or an adequate number of members to perform official functions, the Governor may appoint an individual to replace him during the period of disqualification. This individual must meet the same qualifications as the member he is replacing, and must take the same oath as required of other members of the board.
Section 40-69-40. The Board shall organize by electing a chairman, a vice-chairman, and a secretary-treasurer. The officers of the Board shall hold office for terms of one year and until their successors are elected and qualify. The Board shall meet at least once a year and at such other times as may be ordered by the chairman. Any action of the Board may be taken at any regular or special meeting and a majority of the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum.
Section 40-69-50. Each member shall receive the same per diem, mileage, and subsistence as provided by law for members of state boards, commissions, and committees for each day actually engaged in the duties of office, including a reasonable number of days for the preparation and reviewing of examinations in addition to such time actually spent in conducting examinations.
Section 40-69-60. The secretary-treasurer of the Board shall keep records of all the proceedings of the Board, shall receive and account for all monies received by the Board and shall keep a register of licenses showing the dates of applications for licenses to practice veterinary medicine. All licenses issued by the Board must be numbered and recorded by the secretary-treasurer, and where a license is denied by the Board to any applicant, the fact and grounds for the denial must be entered in the minutes of the Board. The time of issuance or denial of a license must be noted along with the names of those Board members present and such file or record must be open to public inspection. Where a license is denied to an applicant or if a license is revoked or suspended, the fact and ground of the action must be communicated in writing to the applicant or holder of the license.
Information received by the Board through inspections and investigations must be confidential and must not be disclosed except in a proceeding involving the issuance, denial, renewal, suspension, or revocation of a license.
Section 40-69-70. The powers and duties of the Board must include, but not be limited to, the following:
(1) To adopt and promulgate regulations, pursuant to the State Administrative Procedures Act, governing the practice of veterinary medicine as are necessary to enable it to carry out and make effective the purpose and intent of this article. These regulations may include minimum standards for all facilities where veterinary medicine is practiced and minimum standards for continuing education for relicensure;
(2) To adopt rules of professional conduct appropriate to establish and maintain a high standard of integrity, skills, and practice in the profession of veterinary medicine. In prescribing such rules of professional conduct, the Board may be guided by the principles of veterinary medical ethics adopted by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians;
(3) To print its regulations and distribute them to all persons licensed to practice veterinary medicine in this State;
(4) To bring proceedings in courts for the enforcement of this article or any regulations made pursuant thereto;
(5) To establish qualifications for persons wishing to be licensed to practice veterinary medicine;
(6) To pass upon the qualifications of applicants for a license to practice veterinary medicine in this State;
(7) To approve schools and colleges of veterinary medicine which maintain sufficient standards of training and reputability;
(8) To prescribe the subjects, character, manner, time, and place of holding examinations and the filing of applications for
examinations and to conduct the examinations;
(9) To issue temporary permits or licenses to duly qualified applicants;
(10) To provide for, regulate, and require all persons licensed in accordance with the provisions of this article to renew their license annually;
(11) To conduct investigations and hearings upon complaints calling for discipline of a licensee or applicant for license;
(12) To take testimony on any matter under its jurisdiction and to administer oaths;
(13) To issue summons and subpoenas, including subpoenas duces tecum, for any witness, in connection with any matter within the jurisdiction of the Board, which must be signed by either the chairman or the secretary-treasurer of the Board;
(14) To employ investigators and clerical assistance or any other necessary personnel;
(15) To inspect licenses;
(16) To conduct investigations of all alleged violations; and
(17) To prosecute according to law or instigate the prosecution of all violators of this chapter.
(18) To adopt regulations for the sale and dispensing of prescriptions and controlled veterinary drugs, pharmaceuticals, and biologics in accordance with federal and state laws.
Section 40-69-80. Any person wishing to practice veterinary medicine in this State shall obtain a license from the Board. Unless the person shall have obtained a license it must be unlawful for him to practice veterinary medicine as defined herein and if he shall so practice he must be considered to have violated the provisions of this article.
The board shall conduct examinations of all applicants and the board may examine any applicant who submits satisfactory evidence that he:
(a) Is a graduate of a school or college of veterinary medicine approved by the board or holds an Education Commission of Foreign Veterinary Graduates Certificate;
(b) Is of good moral character;
(c) Has paid the required fee.
Section 40-69-90. The Board may issue a temporary license to practice veterinary medicine to an applicant provided the applicant meets the following qualifications:
(1) Meets all qualifications and requirements of Section 40-69-80;
(2) Has filed an application to take the examination;
(3) Is permanently located at some designated place in the State;
(4) Pays temporary license fee of fifteen dollars, which fee must be in addition to the examination fee;
(5) Holds a current and valid license to practice veterinary medicine in another state of the United States.
Individuals failing to pass the examination for a license in this State must not be issued a temporary license.
The temporary license shall entitle the holder to practice only until the Board has acted upon his application for a permanent license after he completes the next regularly scheduled examination, and is not renewable, and only one such license must be issued to any one person. Provided, however, any person who is unable to attend the examination because of illness, accident or other reasonable condition beyond his control, may, in the discretion of the Board, have his temporary license renewed until the Board is able to act on his application after he completes the required examination.
Section 40-69-100. Any person desiring to take the examination for license to practice veterinary medicine shall make application in writing to the Board on forms prescribed by the Board at least fourteen days before the examination. The application must be accompanied by the examination fee which must be set by the Board.
Fees must not be returned under any circumstances, regardless of whether the applicant is accepted for examination, fails the examination, withdraws his application, or is issued or denied a license. Provided, however, if an applicant fails to take the examination for a legitimate reason, the Board may allow him to take the examination at a later date, without having to pay another fee.
After the Board accepts the application and finds that the applicant is otherwise qualified to meet the requirements necessary to practice veterinary medicine, the applicant may be examined by the Board at its next meeting. The Board shall give notice to the applicant of the exact time and place of the examination.
Section 40-69-110. The examination of applicants for licenses to practice veterinary medicine must be conducted under regulations adopted by the Board.
(1) The Board shall, except as otherwise provided herein, require the applicant to take a written examination in veterinary anatomy, veterinary surgery, veterinary physiology, veterinary pathology, veterinary obstetrics, veterinary materia medica, and veterinary practice, chemistry, and such other subjects related to veterinary medicine as the Board may require, or the Board may accept the results of the written examination conducted by the National Board of Veterinary Examiners in lieu of requiring the applicant to take a written examination given by the Board.
(2) The Board may also require that the applicant undergo a clinical, oral, or practical examination in addition to the written examination.
(3) The Board shall establish a minimum passing grade for each examination given by the Board.
If the applicant makes the minimum passing grade on the examination as established by the Board and the Board finds that the applicant is otherwise worthy, competent, and qualified, it shall issue him a license to practice veterinary medicine in this State.
Section 40-69-120. The Board must issue a license, without written examination, to a qualified applicant who is licensed to practice veterinary medicine in another state which has a reciprocal licensing agreement with this State if the applicant furnishes satisfactory proof that he is a graduate of an approved veterinary college, is in good standing in his respective state, and holds a license to practice veterinary medicine in that state. Provided, however, that no person may be licensed under this section except upon proof that he has taken and passed a written examination in at least one of the states in which he is licensed.
The Board shall enter into reciprocal licensing agreements with other states having substantially equivalent licensing requirements.
Section 40-69-130. Each person licensed by the Board shall pay an annual fee, as determined by regulation of the Board. The fee is due and payable on the first day of January of each year. Failure to pay the annual fee on or before the first day of February of each year shall render the license void. Upon a showing of a reasonable explanation and payment of all sums due, the veterinarian may petition for reinstatement. The Board may assess a reinstatement fee as may be set by regulation.
The Board may also issue a duplicate license to replace one that has been lost or destroyed upon payment of a fee set by regulation of the Board. Each duplicate license shall have the word "Duplicate" typed or printed across the face thereof.
Section 40-69-140. The Board may deny, suspend, revoke or otherwise restrict the license of any veterinarian or reprimand, or otherwise discipline licensees for the following reasons as determined by the Board:
(1) Violation of any provisions of this article or any regulations promulgated by the Board.
(2) The use of any false, fraudulent, or forged statement or document or any fraudulent, deceitful, or dishonest act by the holder of a license in connection with any of the license requirements.
(3) Failure to display a license.
(4) Having caused to be published or circulated directly or indirectly any fraudulent, false, or misleading statements as to the skill or methods of practice of any licensee.
(5) Misrepresentation in the inspection of food for human consumption.
(6) The use of any false or fraudulent statement in any document connected with the practice of veterinary medicine.
(7) Obtaining fees or assisting in obtaining such fees under deceptive, false, or fraudulent circumstances.
(8) Failure to provide and maintain facilities as directed by regulation of the Board.
(9) Refusing to permit the Board or any legal representative of the Board to inspect the business premises of the licensee during regular business hours.
(10) Circulating knowingly untrue, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive advertising.
(11) The use of solicitors or peddlers to obtain patronage.
(12) Unprofessional or unethical conduct, or engaging in practices in connection with the practice of veterinary medicine which are in violation of the standards of professional conduct, as defined herein or prescribed by regulations of the Board.
(13) Conduct determined by the Board to be incompetent or negligent in the practice of veterinary medicine.
(14) The making of any false statement in any oath or affidavit which is required by this article.
(15) Revocation by another state of a license to practice veterinary medicine in that state.
(16) Conviction on a charge of cruelty to animals.
(17) Conviction of any federal or state law relating to narcotic drugs.
(18) Physical or mental impairment or any disability which renders practice dangerous to the public.
(19) Performance of any act which in any way assists a person to practice in violation of this article.
(20) Misuse of controlled substances for other than specific treatment of animal patients.
(21) Having employed or permitted a person who does not hold a license to practice veterinary medicine in this State to perform work which, under this article, can lawfully be done only by persons holding a license to practice veterinary medicine.
(22) The practice of veterinary medicine while under either the influence of either alcohol or any drug to such a degree as to adversely affect the performance of his professional obligations and duties.
(23) Having been adjudged mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction; provided that upon notice of a legal determination or incompetency, an individual's license shall be automatically suspended until he is adjudged legally competent.
(24) Failure to report, as required by law, or making false report of any contagious or infectious disease.
(25) Conviction of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude. Forfeiture of a bond or a plea of nolo contendere must be considered the equivalent of a conviction.
Section 40-69-150. Any person, including the Board, may prefer charges of fraud, deceit, negligence, incompetence, or misconduct against any person licensed to practice veterinary medicine by this article.
The charges must be made to the Board, in writing, and sworn to by the person so charging and must be submitted to the secretary-treasurer of the Board. Specific procedures relating to the filing and hearing of these charges shall conform to the State Administrative Procedures Act and must be detailed in the regulations promulgated by the Board.
Section 40-69-160. The Board may reissue a license to or reinstate the license of a person whose license was previously revoked or suspended if a majority of the members of the Board vote in favor of such reissuance or reinstatement. The Board may assess a reinstatement or reissue fee as set by regulation of the Board.
Section 40-69-170. All persons licensed to practice veterinary medicine by the Board shall conspicuously display in the place of practice at all times a current license issued by the Board.
Section 40-69-180. All revenues and income from licenses, examination fees, other fees, sale of commodities and services, and income derived from any other Board source or activity must be remitted to the State Treasurer as collected when practicable, but at least once each week, and must be credited to the general fund of the State. All assessments, fees, or licenses must be levied pursuant to the State Administrative Procedures Act in an amount sufficient or at least equal to the amount appropriated in the annual general appropriations act for the Board, plus any additional funds allocated by the Budget and Control Board for implementation of the state's personnel compensation plan.
Section 40-69-190. The Board shall make an annual report in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 73 of Title 40.
Section 40-69-200. Any person who practices or attempts to practice veterinary medicine for consideration in this State without first having complied with the provisions of this article, or who knowingly presents to or files false information with the Board for the purpose of obtaining a license, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be fined not less than five hundred nor more than twenty five hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than thirty days. Each act of unlawful practice shall constitute a separate offense.
Section 40-69-210. Whenever the Board has reason to believe that any person is violating or intends to violate any provision of this article, it may, in addition to all other remedies, order the person to immediately desist and refrain from that conduct. The Board may apply to the court of common pleas for an injunction restraining the person from that conduct. The court may issue a temporary injunction ex parte and upon notice and full hearing may issue any other order in the matter as it deems proper. No bond must be required of the Board by the court as a condition to the issuance of any injunction or order contemplated by the provisions of this section.
No member of the Board or its committees, special examiners, agents, and employees may be held liable for acts performed in the course of official duties, except where actual malice is shown. For the purpose of any investigation or proceeding under the provisions of this article, the Board or any person designated by it may administer oaths and affirmations, subpoena witnesses, take evidence, and require the production of any documents or records which the Board deems relevant to the inquiry.
Section 40-69-220. No person shall engage in the practice of veterinary medicine in this State without a current and valid license for that purpose issued by the Board. Nothing in this article must be construed to prohibit:
(1) Any person who is a regular student, technician, or instructor in a legally chartered educational institution from the performance of those duties and actions conducted as a responsibility in teaching and research.
(2) Any veterinarian holding a current and valid license in some other state from acting as a consultant with a licensed veterinarian of this State.
(3) Any veterinarian who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or who is an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Public Health Service, or other federal agency or the State of South Carolina or political subdivision thereof from performing official duties in accordance with his employment.
(4) Any person or his regular employee from administering to his own animals, except when his ownership is so vested for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this article and except when the employee is so employed for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this article. However, the administration to the animal must be in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws.
(5) State or federal agencies, accredited schools, research institutions, foundations, corporations or employees thereof, which or who conduct experiments and scientific research using animals, provided the research or testing is performed in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws.
(6) Any person from performing artificial insemination to animals.
(7) Initiation of prescribed emergency procedures in life threatening situations by an animal health technician employed by a licensed veterinarian.
(8) Any merchant from selling at his regular place of business medicines, feed, appliances or other animal health products provided all sales are done in compliance with all federal, state, and local laws and in accordance with the regulations promulgated by the Board.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon approval by the Governor.