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Oklahoma Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians

In Oklahoma, the regulation and licensing of veterinarians are found in 59 Okl. St. § 698.1 through 59 Okl. St. § 698.29.  The law provides that the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is hereby re-created, to continue until July 1, 2020, in accordance with the provisions of the Oklahoma Sunset Law, to regulate and enforce the practice of veterinary medicine in this state in accordance with the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act. The duty of determining a person’s initial and continuing qualification and fitness for the practice of veterinary medicine, of proceeding against the unlawful and unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine and of enforcing the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act is hereby delegated to the Board. That duty shall be discharged in accordance with the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act and other applicable statutes.

The practice of veterinary medicine is a privilege granted by the people of the state acting through their elected representatives.  It is not a natural right of individuals. In the interest of the public, and to protect the public, it is necessary to provide laws and rules to govern the granting and subsequent use of the privilege to practice veterinary medicine.  The primary responsibility and obligation of the Board is to protect the public from the unprofessional, improper, incompetent and unlawful practice of veterinary medicine.  The liability of any member or employee of the Board acting within the scope of Board duties or employment must be governed by The Governmental Tort Claims Act[i].

The State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners shall consist of six (6) members, appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Board shall consist of five licensed veterinarian members, and one lay person representing the general public. Each veterinary member shall be a graduate of an approved school of veterinary medicine, shall be a currently licensed veterinarian and shall have held an active license for the three (3) years preceding appointment to the Board. One member shall be appointed from each congressional district and any remaining members shall be appointed from the state at large.

Powers and Duties of Board

The State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners must have the powers and it must also be its duty to regulate the practice of veterinary medicine.  In addition to any other powers placed on it by the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act or as otherwise provided by law, the Board must have the power and duty to:

1. a. set standards for licensure or certification by examination and develop such examinations as will provide assurance of competency to practice, and

b. employ or enter into agreements with organizations or agencies to provide examinations acceptable to the Board or employ or enter into agreements with organizations or agencies to provide administration, preparation or scoring of examinations;

2. Set fees;

3. Prescribe the time, place, method, manner, scope and subjects of examination for licensure;

4. Prepare or select, conduct or direct the conduct of, set minimum requirements for, and assure security of licensing and other required examinations;

5. a. issue or deny licenses and certificates and renewals thereof,

b. acquire information about and evaluate the professional education and training of applicants for licensure or certification; and accept or deny applications for licensure, certification or renewal of either licensure or certification based on the evaluation of information relating to applicant fitness, performance or competency to practice,

c. determine which professional schools, colleges, universities, training institutions and educational programs are acceptable in connection with licensure pursuant to the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act, and accept the approval of such facilities and programs by American-Veterinary-Medical-Association-accredited institutions in the United States and Canada,

d. require supporting documentation or other acceptable verifying evidence for any information provided the Board by an applicant for licensure or certification, and

e. require information on an applicant’s fitness, qualification and previous professional record and performance from recognized data sources including, but not limited to, other licensing and disciplinary authorities of other jurisdictions, professional education and training institutions, liability insurers, animal health care institutions and law enforcement agencies;

6. Develop and use applications and other necessary forms and related procedures for purposes of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act;

7. a. review and investigate complaints and adverse information about licensees and certificate holders,

b. conduct hearings in accordance with the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act and the Administrative Procedures Act, and

c. adjudicate matters that come before the Board for judgment pursuant to the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act upon clear and convincing evidence and issue final decisions on such matters to discipline licensees and certificate holders;

8. a. impose sanctions, deny licenses and certificates and renewals thereof, levy reimbursement costs, seek appropriate administrative, civil or criminal penalties or any combination of these against those who violate examination security, who attempt to or who do obtain licensure or certification by fraud, who knowingly assist in illegal activities, or who aid and abet the illegal practice of veterinary medicine,

b. review and investigate complaints and adverse information about licensees and certificate holders,

c. discipline licensees and certificate holders,

d. institute proceedings in courts of competent jurisdiction to enforce Board orders and provisions of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act,

(1) establish mechanisms for dealing with licensees and certificate holders who abuse or are dependent on or addicted to alcohol or other chemical substances, and enter into agreements, at its discretion, with professional organizations whose relevant procedures and techniques it has evaluated and approved for their cooperation or participation in the rehabilitation of the licensee or certificate holder,

(2) establish by rules cooperation with other professional organizations for the identification and monitoring of licensees and certificate holders in treatment who are chemically dependent or addicted, and

f. issue conditional, restricted or otherwise circumscribed modifications to licensure or certification as determined to be appropriate by due process procedures and summarily suspend a license if the Board has cause to believe by clear and convincing evidence such action is required to protect public or animal health and safety or to prevent continuation of incompetent practices;

9. Promulgate rules of professional conduct and require all licensees and certificate holders to practice in accordance therewith;

10. Act to halt the unlicensed or illegal practice of veterinary medicine and seek administrative, criminal and civil penalties against those engaged in such practice;

11. Establish appropriate fees and charges to ensure active and effective pursuit of Board responsibilities;

12. Employ, direct, reimburse, evaluate and dismiss staff in accordance with state procedures;

13. Establish policies for Board operations;

14. Respond to legislative inquiry regarding those changes in, or amendments to, the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act;

15. Act on its own motion in disciplinary matters, administer oaths, issue notices, issue subpoenas in the name of the State of Oklahoma, including subpoenas for client and animal records, hold hearings, institute court proceedings for contempt or to compel testimony or obedience to its orders and subpoenas, take evidentiary depositions and perform such other acts as are reasonable and necessary under law to carry out its duties;

16. Use clear and convincing evidence as the standard of proof and issue final decisions when acting as trier of fact in the performance of its adjudicatory duties;

17. Determine and direct Board operating, administrative, personnel and budget policies and procedures in accordance with applicable statutes;

18. Promulgate uniform rules such as may be necessary for carrying out and enforcing the provisions of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act and such as in its discretion may be necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public;

19. Determine continuing education requirements;

20. Establish minimum standards for veterinary premises;

21. Establish standards for veterinary labeling and dispensing of veterinary prescription drugs and federal Food and Drug Administration-approved human drugs for animals which would conform to current applicable state and federal law and regulations;

22. Promulgate rules such as may be necessary for carrying out and enforcing provisions relating to certification of animal euthanasia technicians and approval of drugs to be used for euthanasia of animals in an animal shelter pursuant to the requirements of Section 502 of Title 4 of the Oklahoma Statutes;

23. Must conduct a national criminal history records search for certified animal euthanasia technicians:

a. the applicant shall furnish the Board two completed fingerprint cards and a money order or cashier’s check made payable to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation,

b. the Board shall forward the fingerprint cards, along with the applicable fee for a national fingerprint criminal history records search, to the Bureau, and

c. the Bureau shall retain one set of fingerprints in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and submit the other set to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a national criminal history records search;

24. Establish standards for animal chiropractic diagnosis and treatment. The standards shall include but not be limited to a requirement that a veterinarian who holds himself or herself out to the public as certified to engage in animal chiropractic diagnosis and treatment shall:

a. carry at least One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) of additional malpractice coverage to perform animal chiropractic diagnosis and treatment, and

b. have appropriate training in animal chiropractic diagnosis and treatment.

25. Perform such other duties and exercise such other powers as the provisions and enforcement of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act may require.[ii].

Licensing of Veterinarians

In Oklahoma, it is unlawful to practice veterinary medicine without a license or certificate issued by the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.  Requirements for licensure or certification shall be set by the Board and may be changed as the education and training for the practice of veterinary medicine changes. Prior to issuance of a license or certificate to practice veterinary medicine in this state, the applicant shall have been found by the Board to be of good moral character and the Board shall consider but not be limited to the following evidence of suitability to practice:

a. Graduation from an approved school of veterinary medicine whose requirements at the time of graduation are acceptable to the Board.

b. Graduates of schools of veterinary medicine located outside the United States and Canada shall be held to the same standards.

2. Satisfactory completion of a minimum number of months of education in veterinary medicine as a requirement for graduation from a school of veterinary medicine as set by the Board;

3. Evidence that the applicant for licensure or certification is of good moral character;

5. Evidence that the applicant has demonstrated familiarity with the statutes and rules set by the Board;

6. Evidence that the applicant is mentally and professionally capable of practicing veterinary medicine in a competent manner as determined by the Board and willing to submit, if deemed appropriate by the Board, to an evaluation of skills and abilities;

7. Evidence that the applicant has not been found guilty by a court of law of any conduct that would constitute grounds for disciplinary action under the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act or rules of the Board, and there has been no disciplinary action taken against the applicant by any public agency concerned with the practice of veterinary medicine;

8. If the Board deems it necessary, a personal appearance by the applicant before the Board in support of the applicant’s application for licensure or certification. If the Board is not satisfied with the credentials of the applicant, or demonstration of knowledge or skills presented, the Board may require further examination or supervised practice before reconsideration of the application; and

9. Evidence that all required fees have been paid.

Furthermore, practice without the legal possession of an active license or certificate shall be prohibited, and evidence of said practice shall be reported by the Board to the district attorney of the county in which the practice is found to occur. Certificates may be issued to any veterinarian who has failed to obtain or failed to maintain a regular license to practice veterinary medicine. Such certificates may be issued by the Board at such times as the Board determines that all requirements for possession of such certificate have been met as set by rules and policies of the Board. Certificates may be issued for, but not limited to, the practice of veterinary medicine under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian while the application for full licensure is pending.

The statute provides that licenses or certificates suspended, revoked or not renewed for any purpose may be reinstated upon the motion of the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners upon proper application of the licensee or certificate holder.  A license or certificate suspended for failure to renew may be reinstated by the president or secretary-treasurer of the Board. Provided, such action shall be approved or ratified, or may be rescinded by the Board at the Board meeting following such action. Requirements for reinstatement of a license or certificate which has been suspended, revoked or not renewed shall be by rule and shall include, but not be limited to, evidence that:

1. All requirements for full licensure or certification have been met; and

2. The applicant has not been convicted or the applicant’s license or certificate suspended, revoked or not renewed or placed on probation in another state for violations of an act that would constitute the same or similar penalty in this state.

Upon a determination that a violation has been committed, the Board must, by clear and convincing evidence, have the authority to impose upon the alleged violator, the payment of costs expended by the Board in investigating and prosecuting the cause, to include, but not be limited to, staff time, salary and travel expenses, witness fees and attorney fees and same must be considered part of the order of the Board.

Discipline of Veterinarians

The Board may take disciplinary action or other sanctions upon clear and convincing evidence of unprofessional or dishonorable conduct, which must include, but not be limited to:

1. Fraud or misrepresentation in applying for or procuring a license or certificate to practice veterinary medicine in any federal, state or local jurisdiction;

2. Cheating on or attempting to cheat on or subvert in any manner whatsoever the licensing or certificate examination or any portion thereof;

3. The conviction of or entry of a guilty plea or plea of nolo contendere involving a felony in this or any other jurisdiction, whether or not related to the practice of veterinary medicine;

4. Conduct likely to deceive, defraud, or harm the public;

5. The making of a false or misleading statement regarding one’s skill or the efficacy or value of the medicine, treatment or remedy prescribed by the licensed veterinarian or at the licensed veterinarian’s direction in the treatment of any disease or other condition of the animal;

6. Representing to a client that a manifestly incurable condition, sickness, disease or injury can be cured or healed;

7. Negligence in the practice of veterinary medicine;

8. Practice or other behavior that demonstrates a manifest incapacity or incompetence to practice veterinary medicine;

9. The use of any false, fraudulent or deceptive statement in any document connected with the practice of veterinary medicine;

10. Failure to notify the Board of current address of practice;

11. Aiding or abetting the practice of veterinary medicine by an unlicensed, incompetent or impaired person;

12. Habitual use or abuse of alcohol or of a habit-forming drug or chemical which impairs the ability of the licensee or certificate holder to practice veterinary medicine;

13. Violation of any laws relating to the administration, prescribing or dispensing of controlled dangerous substances or violation of any laws of the federal government or any state of the United States relative to controlled dangerous substances;

14. Obtaining a fee by fraud or misrepresentation;

15. Directly or indirectly giving or receiving any fee, commission, rebate or other compensation for professional services not actually and personally rendered, not to preclude the legal function of a lawful professional partnership, corporation or association;

16. Failure to report to the Board any adverse action taken by another jurisdictional body, by any peer review body, health-related licensing or disciplinary jurisdiction, law enforcement agency or court for acts or conduct related to the practice of veterinary medicine;

17. Failure to report to the Board surrender of a license or other certificate of authorization to perform functions based on the holding of a license or certificate to practice veterinary medicine or surrender of membership in any organization or association related to veterinary medicine while under investigation by that association or organization for conduct similar to or the same as acts which would constitute grounds for action as defined in the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act;

18. Failure to furnish the Board, its staff or agents information legally requested or failure to cooperate with a lawful investigation conducted by or on behalf of the Board;

19. Failure to pay appropriately assessed fees or failure to make any personal appearance required by the Board or any of its officers;

20. The practice of veterinary medicine in the absence of a bona fide veterinarian-client-patient relationship. The preclusion of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship by a veterinarian who in good faith renders or attempts to render emergency care to a victim pursuant to a Good Samaritan application shall not constitute grounds for discipline pursuant to the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act;

21. Providing vaccinations or elective surgical procedures on skunks, namely Mephitis mephitis (striped), Conepatus mesoleusus (hog-nosed), and Spilogale putorius (spotted), unless the animal is under the custody and care of a recognized zoological institution, research facility, or person possessing an appropriate and current wildlife permit issued by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or Oklahoma Department of Agriculture; or

22. Violation of any provisions of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act or the rules and policies of the Board or of an action, stipulation or agreement of the Board.

Furthermore, the Board may commence any legal action to enforce the provision of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act and may exercise full discretion and authority with respect to enforcement actions. Administrative sanctions taken by the Board shall be made in accordance with Article II of the Administrative Procedures Act, the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act, and other applicable laws of this state. The Board shall take appropriate enforcement action when required, assuring fairness and due process to the defendant.  The Board or its designee may hold informal conferences to negotiate a settlement of a dispute; provided that the conference is agreed to in writing by all parties and said conference does not preclude a hearing on the same matters. The Board shall not consider the agreement binding should a hearing be held subsequent to the agreement. The Board may summarily suspend a license or certificate prior to a formal hearing when it has found upon clear and convincing evidence that such action is required to protect the public or animal health or welfare or when a person under the jurisdiction of the Board is convicted of a felony, whether or not related to the practice of veterinary medicine; provided such action is taken simultaneously with proceedings for setting a formal hearing to be held within thirty (30) days after the summary suspension. The Board may issue an order to any licensee or certificate holder, obtain an injunction or take other administrative, civil or criminal court action against any person or any corporation or association, its officers, or directors, to restrain said persons from violating the provisions of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act.

Moreover, the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners may suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the license or certificate of any person holding license or certificate to practice veterinary medicine in this state or place such person on probation for unprofessional conduct, but no such suspension or revocation or refusal to renew, or probation shall be made, unless otherwise provided for herein, until such be cited to appear for hearing. No such citation shall be issued except upon a sworn complaint filed with the president or secretary-treasurer of said Board charging the licensee or certificate holder with having been guilty of unprofessional conduct and setting forth the particular act or acts alleged to constitute such unprofessional conduct. In the event it comes to the attention of the Board that a violation of the rules of professional conduct may have occurred, even though a formal complaint or charge may not have been filed, the Board may conduct an investigation of such possible violation, and may, upon its own motion, institute a formal complaint. In the course of such investigation, persons appearing before the Board may be required to testify under oath.

The statute further states that upon the the filing of a complaint, either by an individual or the Board, the citation shall be issued by the president or secretary-treasurer of the Board over such officer’s signature and seal of the Board, setting forth the particulars of the complaint, and giving due notice of the time and place of the hearing by the Board. The license or certificate of the accused shall be suspended, revoked or not renewed if the charges are found, by clear and convincing evidence, sufficient by the Board; provided, the president or secretary-treasurer of the Board may extend the time of answer upon satisfactory showing that the defendant is for reasonable cause, unable to answer within the prescribed twenty (20) days, but in no case shall the time be extended beyond the date of the next scheduled meeting for hearing the complaint, unless continuance thereof be granted by the Board. All final disciplinary actions, license denials, related findings of fact and conclusions of law are matters of public record. Voluntary surrender of and voluntary limitations on the veterinarian’s practice or license shall be public record.

Pursuant to the statutes, the Board must consider violation of any of the Rules of Professional Conduct a violation of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act section on unprofessional conduct and shall proceed with disciplinary action as set out in the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act, any person who the Board has determined by clear and convincing evidence to have violated any provisions of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act, or any rule or order issued pursuant thereto shall be liable for an administrative penalty of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) for each day that the violation continues. The amount of the penalty shall be assessed by the Board pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this subsection, after notice and hearing. In determining the amount of the penalty, the Board shall, by clear and convincing evidence, include, but not be limited to, consideration of the nature, circumstances, and gravity of the violation and, with respect to the person found to have committed the violation, the degree of culpability, the effect on ability of the person to continue to do business, and any show of good faith in attempting to achieve compliance with the provisions of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act. All penalties collected pursuant to the provisions of this subsection shall be deposited in the Veterinary Medical Examiners Fund.

59 Okl. St. § 698.25 provides that the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners may revoke, suspend or refuse to renew the certificate of a veterinary technician or place the veterinary technician on probation, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, upon a determination based on clear and convincing evidence of a violation of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act or rules promulgated or orders issued pursuant thereto or any other law or rule relating to the practice of veterinary medicine.  It is unlawful for a registered veterinary technician, veterinary technologist, nurse, veterinary assistant or other employee to diagnose animal diseases, prescribe medical or surgical treatment, or perform as a surgeon and such acts must constitute the unlawful practice of veterinary medicine as prohibited in Section 698.18 of this title.  Any veterinarian licensed in the state who permits or directs a veterinary technician, veterinary technologist, veterinary nurse, aide or animal attendant to perform a task or procedure in violation of the provisions of the Oklahoma Veterinary Practice Act, upon conviction, must be guilty of aiding or abetting the unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine as prohibited by Section 698.18 of this title, and must be, in addition to any criminal penalties, subject to revocation, probation, nonrenewal or suspension of license by the Board[vi].

[i] 59 Okl. St. § 698.3.

[ii] 59 Okl. St. § 698.7.

[iii] 59 Okl. St. § 698.8.

[iv] 59 Okl. St. § 698.9a.

[v] 59 Okl. St. § 698.14a.

[vi] 59 Okl. St. § 698.26.


Inside Oklahoma Laws on Regulation and Licensing of Veterinarians