The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) announced recently that Alabama is the first state to accept accreditation by AAHA in place of an inspection by the state veterinary board. Veterinary hospitals evaluated and accredited by AAHA are now exempt from periodic inspection by the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME).
“The Alabama Practice Act allows the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to issue a premise permit to any premise which is accredited by a recognized organization whose standards meet or exceed minimum board standards,” says ASBVME President Robert Pitman, DVM, in an AAHA release. “Clearly AAHA standards exceed those minimum standards.” AAHA has more than 900 standards hospitals must meet for accreditation.
The motion, approved by the board Dec. 19, 2012, provides a benefit to AAHA-accredited hospitals and lessens the inspection load for ASBVME inspectors. “This benefits member hospitals by not requiring a redundant inspection,” Pitman says. “It can be considered a member benefit of AAHA and encourage other hospitals that may be considering AAHA membership to take the big step. Also, it allows for more efficient use of our evaluators’ time by not having to inspect member hospitals that exceed state standards. There are many reasons to do it. I think other states will at least consider it.”
Recently the Alabama veterinary board has been embroiled in debate over its jurisdiction of the state’s four low-cost nonprofit spay-neuter clinics. If ASBVME-supported Senate Bill 25 passes in this year’s legislative session, it will allow nonveterinary ownership of nonprofit spay-neuter clinics (currently prohibited by the state practice act) but also institute more stringent oversight from the board than other veterinary practices face--requirements that could increase the board’s inspection load, though Pitman could not be reached for comment on whether this had any bearing on the board’s decision to accept AAHA accreditation.
The Alabama Veterinary Medical Association opposes Senate Bill 25 and instead supports House Bill 188, which would permit nonveterinary ownership of nonprofit spay-neuter clinics in the state without what it calls the “discriminatory” inspection requirements of SB 25.