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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Chapter 474
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F.S. 474.2165
474.2165 Ownership and control of veterinary medical patient records; report or copies of records to be furnished.
(1) As used in this section, the term “records owner” means any veterinarian who generates a medical record after making a physical examination of, or administering treatment or dispensing legend drugs to, any patient; any veterinarian to whom records are transferred by a previous records owner; or any veterinarian’s employer, provided the employment contract or agreement between the employer and the veterinarian designates the employer as the records owner.
(2) Each person who provides veterinary medical services shall maintain medical records, as established by rule.
(3) Any records owner licensed under this chapter who makes an examination of, or administers treatment or dispenses legend drugs to, any patient shall, upon request of the client or the client’s legal representative, furnish, in a timely manner, without delays for legal review, copies of all reports and records relating to such examination or treatment, including X rays. The furnishing of such report or copies shall not be conditioned upon payment of a fee for services rendered.
(4) Except as otherwise provided in this section, such records may not be furnished to, and the medical condition of a patient may not be discussed with, any person other than the client or the client’s legal representative or other veterinarians involved in the care or treatment of the patient, except upon written authorization of the client. However, such records may be furnished without written authorization under the following circumstances:
(a) To any person, firm, or corporation that has procured or furnished such examination or treatment with the client’s consent.
(b) In any civil or criminal action, unless otherwise prohibited by law, upon the issuance of a subpoena from a court of competent jurisdiction and proper notice to the client or the client’s legal representative by the party seeking such records.
(c) For statistical and scientific research, provided the information is abstracted in such a way as to protect the identity of the patient and the client, or provided written permission is received from the client or the client’s legal representative.
(d) In any criminal action or situation where a veterinarian suspects a criminal violation. If a criminal violation is suspected, a veterinarian may, without notice to or authorization from the client, report the violation to a law enforcement officer, an animal control officer who is certified pursuant to s. 828.27(4)(a), or an agent appointed under s. 828.03. However, if a suspected violation occurs at a commercial food-producing animal operation on land classified as agricultural under s. 193.461, the veterinarian must provide notice to the client or the client’s legal representative before reporting the suspected violation to an officer or agent under this paragraph. The report may not include written medical records except upon the issuance of an order from a court of competent jurisdiction.
(5) Except in a medical negligence action or administrative proceeding when a veterinarian is or reasonably expects to be named as a defendant, information disclosed to a veterinarian by a client in the course of the care and treatment of the patient is confidential and may be disclosed only to other veterinarians involved in the care or treatment of the patient, or if permitted by written authorization from the client or compelled by subpoena at a deposition, evidentiary hearing, or trial for which proper notice has been given.
(6) The department may obtain patient records pursuant to a subpoena without written authorization from the client if the department and the probable cause panel of the board find reasonable cause to believe that a veterinarian has excessively or inappropriately prescribed any controlled substance specified in chapter 893 in violation of this chapter or that a veterinarian has practiced his or her profession below that level of care, skill, and treatment required as defined by this chapter.
(7) Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 455.242, records owners shall place an advertisement in the local newspaper or notify clients, in writing, when they are terminating practice, retiring, or relocating and are no longer available to patients and shall offer clients the opportunity to obtain a copy of their medical records.
(8) Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 455.242, records owners shall notify the board office when they are terminating practice, retiring, or relocating and are no longer available to patients, specifying who the new records owner is and where the medical records can be found.
(9) Whenever a records owner has turned records over to a new records owner, the new records owner shall be responsible for providing a copy of the complete medical record, upon written request, of the client or the client’s legal representative.
(10) Veterinarians in violation of the provisions of this section shall be disciplined by the board.
(11) A records owner furnishing copies of reports or records pursuant to this section shall charge no more than the actual cost of copying, including reasonable staff time, or the amount specified in administrative rule by the board.
(12) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit veterinarian consultations, as necessary. 13, 15, 25, 30, 34, 37, 62, ch. 80-406; s. 2, ch. 81-318; ss. 15, 16, ch. 85-291; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 50, ch. 2000-356; s. 18, ch. 2019-167.