Under Maryland law, provisions relating to regulation of veterinarians are provided under Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-301 through Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-316. The provisions of the subtitle relating to the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and the regulation of veterinarians are of no effect and may not be enforced after July 1, 2021[i].
State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners consists of seven members, five of whom are licensed and registered veterinarians of the State. These five members must be residing in the state and have engaged in active practice for five years at some time. Of these five veterinarian members, at least two must have their practices predominantly for large animals. Two members of the Board need not have to be veterinarians. Each member serves a term of five years or until his/her successor is elected and qualified. Generally, a member is not eligible to serve for more than two full successive terms. A member’s office is deemed to be vacant if s/he ceases to reside in Maryland[ii].
The Board is vested with considerable power to regulate the practice of veterinary medicine in Maryland. The board will inspect every veterinary hospital facility in the State at least once every two years. The board reports suspected instances of animal cruelty and adopts regulations encouraging a veterinary practitioner to report suspected instances of animal cruelty to a local law enforcement or animal control agency. A veterinary practitioner will be immune from any civil liability that results from such reporting in good faith[iii].
Every veterinary hospital has to be licensed by the board and the license is issued to the owner of the hospital. The board has the power to reject an application, or suspend or revoke the license for failure to maintain the facility properly[iv].
The board is also authorized to regulate veterinary education in Maryland. The board has the exclusive power to establish and alter the standards of preliminary and professional education and training requirements of applicants for the examination for a license[v]. In addition, the board may establish an annual continuing education requirement of at least 12 hours as a condition to any license renewal. Further, the board regulates the approval of any college or institution imparting training in veterinary medicine. The board may cancel or revoke approval if the college or institution does not meet its standards. However, the approval of the American Veterinary Medical Association of a college or institution is sufficient to qualify the college or institution[vi]. Any veterinarian desiring to be licensed to practice veterinary medicine shall have completed the course of study prescribed by an approved college or institution[vii].
The board is authorized to prescribe the subject, character, manner, time, and place for every written examination, and the procedure for filing applications for the examination. It also conducts the written examination and keeps the written report of every examination in the board office for three years. The board fixes the examination fee. In order to be eligible for a license, the applicant must be of good moral character and hold a diploma from an approved college or institution imparting the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine[viii].
Every licensee who practices veterinary medicine in Maryland is obligated to register annually with the board and pay a registration fee set by the board for the privilege of continuing his/her license[ix].
Discipline of Veterinarians
The Board may refuse, suspend, or revoke any application or license, and censure or place on probation any licensee after a hearing, if the veterinarian:
- Is adjudicated insane;
- Is convicted of a violation of any federal or State law relating to prescription drugs, a controlled dangerous substance or a controlled substance;
- Is convicted of a felony, or of a crime involving moral turpitude;
- Is convicted of any unlawful or fraudulent practice, or any fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive representation or advertising concerning his/her professional qualifications or the quality of materials or drugs used by him/her in his/her professional work or in the treatment of animals;
- Has a final judgment entered against him/her in a civil malpractice case involving gross personal negligence;
- Obtains the license by fraud or misrepresentation, either in the application, or in passing the examination;
- Is guilty of employing or permitting to practice veterinary medicine any person who does not hold a license to practice in Maryland;
- Fails to comply with Board rules or regulations after receiving a license;
- Is grossly negligent or deliberately cruel to an animal;
- After a hearing, is determined by four members to be incompetent as a veterinary practitioner; or
- Is disciplined by a licensing authority of another state, including the suspension or revocation of a license to practice veterinary medicine, for an act that would be grounds for disciplinary action under Maryland law[x].
The board may, in lieu of or in addition to suspension of the license, impose a penalty of not more than $ 5,000. In addition to revocation of the license, the board may impose a penalty of not more than $ 5,000[xi].
Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-311 details the procedure for suspension or revocation of a license. As such, the board will give the licensee at least ten days written notice of the time and place of the hearing prior to any suspension or revocation of license. In addition, a copy of the charges will be furnished the licensee and the licensee will be given an opportunity to be heard personally and to be represented by counsel before the board. The licensee will also have the opportunity to confront witnesses against him/her. The Board may compel the attendance of witnesses by subpoena. The board will report its action in writing, stating the reasons for the action and the licensee has a right to appeal to the circuit court of the county where the licensee has an office. The licensee and the Board may appeal from the decision of the circuit court to the Court of Special Appeals[xii].
Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-312 stipulate that at any time within two years from the date of revocation of any license, the board, by the affirmative vote of four members, may issue without examination a new license. After the expiration of two years, the person may obtain a new license.
A licensed person or a student of veterinary medicine who works under the direct supervision of a veterinary practitioner who, for no fee or compensation, renders veterinary aid, care, or assistance in an emergency situation in which the owner or custodian of the animal is not available to grant permission will be the immune from liability for any injury caused to of such animal[xiii]. In addition, the disciplinary procedures enumerated above, the board is also authorized to pursue an action for an injunction against a person who violates any regulation regarding veterinary practice[xiv].
[i] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-316.
[ii] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-302.
[iii] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-304.
[iv] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-304.1.
[v] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-306.
[viii] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-307.
[ix] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-308.
[x] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-310.
[xi] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-310.1.
[xii] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-311.
[xiii] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-314.
[xiv] Md. AGRICULTURE Code Ann. § 2-315.