TABLE 4:

Prototype of a veterinary ethics tool (VET) to facilitate decision-making in clinical veterinary medicine

RelationshipQuestions to facilitate ethical deliberationNoI don’t knowPossiblyDefinitely
Animal-centred factors
(justificatory reasons)
Clinician-patient (clinical responsibility)A. Do you perceive the proposed treatment to be in the best interests of the patient?
A1. Will the proposed treatment improve the patient’s health?
A2. Will the proposed treatment improve the patient’s quality of life:
(a) immediately
(b) long term
B. Is the proposed treatment option the one with the least potential to cause harm and suffering while still achieving the intended clinical goal?
C. Have measures been taken to minimise the potential for harm and suffering?
D. Do the expected benefits outweigh the potential harm and suffering inflicted on the animal or are they at least in balance?
Secondary factors
(explanatory reasons)
Clinician-profession (professional responsibility)E. Does the primary clinician/team have experience in carrying out the proposed treatment and/or is it a well-documented recognised treatment?
F. Is this case an example of good ethical decision-making for students/trainees/colleagues?
G. Would you feel comfortable justifying the proposed treatment to professional colleagues?
Client-patientH. Would proceeding with the proposed treatment have a positive impact on the owner-animal relationship?
I. Would proceeding with the proposed treatment have a positive impact on the client’s quality of life and/or financial benefits (eg, the proposed treatment will allow breeding from a valuable animal)?
Clinician-clientJ. Is the proposed treatment financially viable for the client?
K. Is the client capable of providing a suitable home environment and/or administrating medication during the recovery period?
Priority checkProfessional responsibilityL. Are the secondary factors E–K (explanatory reasons) more influential in your clinical decision than the animal-centred factors A–D (justificatory reasons)?
  • Embedded ImageConsider alternative treatment options.

  • Embedded ImageReconsider procedure and the clinician’s responsibility.

  • Embedded ImageValid reasons for clinical procedure.