Guidelines and code of conduct
The Veterinary Board of the Northern Territory (NT) regulates the veterinary profession in the NT. It ensures that high standards of professional practice are maintained in the provision of veterinary services so the public has confidence in the profession.
Veterinarians are expected to conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner and to display high standards of expertise, performance, integrity and accountability in the course of their professional activities.
Good veterinary practice
Good veterinary practice means behaviour and standards expected of a veterinarian by his or her peers and by the community.
It is incumbent on all registered veterinarians to be conversant with and abide by all professional and statutory obligations relevant to veterinary practice, including the prescribed code of conduct and to keep abreast of current standards of veterinary science.
Section 28(2) of the Veterinarians Act provides that “A registered veterinarian or a person formerly registered under the Veterinarians Act is taken to be incompetent if he or she is unable or fails to uphold or maintain contemporary professional standards”.
Codes of conduct
Codes of conduct aim to provide a framework of the principles, professional and ethical standards expected of veterinary practitioners. NT registered veterinarians must abide by the code of conduct prescribed in the NT veterinarians regulations. Contravention of or failure to comply with the Veterinarians Act or the prescribed code of conduct constitutes misconduct under section 28 of the Veterinarians Act.
Clause 1(1)(b) of the code of conduct prescribed in the NT veterinarians regulations provides that it is the duty of registered veterinarians “...to be familiar with and abide by all relevant legislation affecting their professional activity and behaviour.”
In addition, the prescribed code of conduct requires that NT registered veterinarians and veterinary specialists must:
- maintain knowledge of the current standards of veterinary practice and “always carry out veterinary services in accordance with those current standards and in accordance with the Board’s guidelines (which are published under section 6(e) of the Veterinarians Act) - clause 4(1)(a) and (b)
- keep detailed records of any consultation, procedure or treatment, which must contain sufficient detail to enable another registered veterinarian to continue treatment of the animal, and include the results of any diagnostic tests, analysis and treatments – clause 16 (1), 16(3)(a) and (b)
- ensure that any premises at which he or she provides veterinary services and all equipment that he or she has for use in the carrying out of veterinary procedures, are kept in a safe and clean condition – clause 25
- ensure that the all persons assisting in the provision of veterinary services have the skills, knowledge and available equipment to enable the performance of their duties according to current standards of veterinary practice – clause 14
- ensure to the best of their ability that the non-veterinary staff they employ or are responsible for supervising, carry out the duties of their employment effectively and in compliance with any law relating to the provision of veterinary services - clauses 5(2)(a) and (b)
- maintain the confidentiality of information obtained in the course of professional practice – clause 13.
Guidelines under the Veterinarians Act
The Board is empowered under section 6(e) of the Veterinarians Act to issue guidelines on standards in relation to the provision of veterinary services that must be observed by registered veterinarians and veterinary specialists. Veterinarians have a professional and statutory responsibility to be familiar with the Board’s guidelines and to apply the guidance they provide. The guidelines outline what the Board considers to be the minimum acceptable standard expected from a registered veterinarian exercising reasonable skill and care in the course of providing treatment to animals.
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