This is a straightforward procedure which benefits the patient, owner and referral veterinary surgeon as well as the referring practice. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has laid down simple guidelines which should ensure that difficulties need not arise.
Animals may be referred for a second opinion for a variety of reasons:
1. To allow a veterinary surgeon with particular experience in one animal species or one particular system to examine the animal and, using his or her expert knowledge, to give a diagnosis and recommend treatment.
2. Specialised diagnostic or therapeutic equipment is required to confirm a diagnosis, or for specialised treatment. The institutions most commonly involved with this group are the teaching institutions (veterinary colleges) in the UK, registered veterinary hospitals and specialist referral practices.
3. Where a diagnosis cannot be reached, where there is a question over a diagnosis made or where treatment fails, to allow another veterinary surgeon to pass a second opinion.
What is a veterinary referral and why would my pet need one?
When your pet is ill, you know that you can trust us here at Oakmount Veterinary Centre Ltd. However, if your pet is particularly ill, or suffers from a complicated condition, we may suggest referring them to a secondary referral vet. This way they are ensuring your pet can benefit from the very best diagnosis and treatment that the profession has to offer.
Secondary veterinary referral services are carried out in a range of areas, including: cardiology, dermatology, oncology, ophthalmology and surgery.
In some cases your pet many be referred for diagnostic tests or treatments that require complex equipment which are not available here.
Seeing a secondary referral vet
If we feel your pet would benefit from a referral, we will discuss this with you and give you all the information you need to make a fully informed decision. It’s worth remembering that you have a choice about who you are referred to, so you can research who to entrust your pet to, to make sure they’re in the best hands.
Once you have decided we will liaise with the referring Vet and provide any relevant case notes.
Seeking a second opinion
You may wish to seek a second opinion if reasonable progress is not being made. You have every right to nominate a second opinion of choice veterinary surgeon. A client must not attempt to obtain a second opinion from a new veterinary surgeon without the full knowledge of the previous veterinary surgeon and this, apart from the ethical aspects, has a very valid reason. Co-operation between referring and referee veterinary surgeons allows transmission of vital information, thus saving unnecessary repetition of x-rays, tests and treatment. Additionally, the current treatment and any adverse drug reactions can be reported, which obviously is essential for the animal’s well-being. The referring veterinary surgeon will be expected to supply whatever information is available about the case, including relevant past case history, immediate past case history, including findings, treatment and response, x-rays, laboratory and other test results.
The second opinion veterinary surgeon will then communicate with the owner preliminary findings subject to further tests being done, but more details will be given direct by the referee to the referring veterinary surgeon, together with recommendations for treatment.
If for any reason you would like/need to change veterinary practices, i.e. if you are moving home and another practice may be more convenient, then this can easily be accomplished by following the guidelines laid down by the RCVS.