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Practice Advisory: Pregnancy Diagnosis using Transabdominal Ultrasound

August 28, 2017

In late spring of 2017 the College received an inquiry related to the utilization of technicians to perform pregnancy checks on small ruminants with transabdominal ultrasound. In particular, this question arose in relation to two independent ultrasound technicians in the small ruminant sector that were granted special permission to offer pregnancy diagnosis services by the College in the 1990’s. At the time that this permission was granted, no veterinarians were offering large scale pregnancy diagnosis in small ruminants. As one of these individuals is now considering retirement plans, the College was asked to clarify who could perform these services, including how veterinary technicians could be incorporated in offering this service.

The position of the College is that a pregnancy check, by any means, to confirm pregnancy in an animal, is in fact a diagnosis. Only a veterinarian can make a diagnosis in relation to an animal. Others may gather clinical information that assists with diagnosis, but the actual confirmation of a diagnosis is considered the practice of veterinary medicine.

A veterinarian can utilize a technician to assist with the process of gathering clinical information. This assistance must be delegated by the veterinarian and can be supervised indirectly. The veterinarian retains the overall responsibility for this process and outcome. In the case of ultrasound pregnancy diagnosis a technician could perform the transabdominal scan as long as an image is saved with the animal’s identification for review and diagnosis by a veterinarian.

While inconsistent with the existing rules, the College will continue to permit the two ultrasound technicians in Ontario who offer small ruminant pregnancy diagnosis services to continue until their retirement.