Code of Ethics for Guild of Professional Farriers Members for Working with Veterinarians

published in ANVIL Magazine, February, 1999

Farriers and veterinarians are independent professionals who deal with horses’ feet, legs, lameness, gait and stance. Farriers and veterinarians each have their own unique skills and viewpoints, which are invaluable to the horse and horseowner. The successful cooperation between farriers and veterinarians can be a tremendous asset to the horse and horseowner, and is sometimes essential for the well-being of the horse. The following guidelines are intended to maximize cooperation for the good of all concerned.

1) DIRECT COMMUNICATIONS: You must provide the best possible access for

direct consultations with veterinarians who work on your customers’ horses. Give them times and numbers when you are most likely to be able to speak to them directly. (For example: “You are most likely to reach me from 8-10 PM at my home number, 301-898-6990.”)

a) Consultation: When your work may affect a condition for which the owner has consulted a veterinarian, then — with the owner’s permission — you must try to consult directly with that veterinarian before completing work on the horse. This is not only courteous, but the veterinarian may have information that is essential for you to help the horse.

b) Notification: Immediately notify the attending veterinarian of any work you have done that affects their work, and/or any observations that may affect their work. (For example: “I understand you recently diagnosed Joe Smith’s horse with navicular disease and put him on isoxsuprine and bute. I just put on rocker-toed eggbar shoes and he seems to be moving more comfortably.”)

c) Directions: Directions from the veterinarian indirectly through the owner or other surrogate (directions left verbally or in writing) should be considered insufficient and unreliable — not an acceptable substitute for direct consultation, particularly because it does not allow for discussion. If the owner insists that you follow the veterinarian’s directions, then you must speak directly to the veterinarian before completing your work. Unless you have been hired by the veterinarian, you work for the customer and not the veterinarian.

2) REFERRAL: For work that is necessary for the horse but outside of your scope or field, you must either hire someone qualified to do the work or refer the horseowner to that professional. (For example: if a horse needs a diagnostic workup for lameness and the horseowner does not already have an attending veterinarian, you must either hire a veterinarian to do that or refer the horseowner to a veterinarian.) In most states, only veterinarians are legally able to diagnose and to prescribe and administer medications. Guild members are to have a veterinarian present if a diagnosis must be made, if medications need to be administered, or if there is a reasonable expectation that bleeding will occur or sensitive tissues invaded.

3) RESPECT: Although you don’t have to agree with the veterinarian, you must refrain from any second-guessing, criticism or negative comment to the customer about the attending veterinarian or his work. Just as you are the expert in your field, he is the expert in his field. Any questions, concerns, or problems you have with the veterinarian’s work should be discussed privately and directly with the veterinarian. The Guild member should refrain from requesting a second opinion or a change of veterinarians, unless there is apparent gross mistreatment or a lack of cooperation and respect from the veterinarian.

4) RESPONSIBLITY: Farriers are completely responsible for their own actions. You must do only what you feel is correct and reasonable. Being asked by an owner or directed by a veterinarian to perform a procedure does not remove your responsibility, nor limit your liability for your actions.

To work ethically and effectively with veterinarians is to remember these two principles: treat them as you want them to treat you and you remain responsible for your own actions.

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