'Nurse, physical therapy' never applies to veterinary practice, regulators say

Nurses and physical therapists slap New York veterinarians with language protocols

July 7, 2008 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

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Albany, N.Y. — Technicians are not nurses, and the term 'physical therapy' never applies to animals, New York regulators say. 

Leaders with the two professions alerted the New York State Board for Veterinary Medicine that veterinarians and their staff often use such terms in practice, and they want it to stop.

Now board Executive Secretary Walter Ramos warns veterinarian licensees that the title 'nurse' is protected by state law and applies only to a person licensed to practice nursing in a human medical setting. The same goes for physical therapy, which by definition relates only to conditions of the human system. 

"We're trying to get the word that these professions are reporting veterinarians who continue to use the language," Ramos says, adding that a violation is an act of professional misconduct. "I understand it will take some time for people to retool. At this point, I'm just contacting people and asking them to cease and desist." 

He suggests that veterinarians should refer to physical therapy-like treatments on animals as "rehabilitation or mobility-assistive services." As for licensed and appropriately trained staff, refer to them as veterinary technicians. 

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