Why Refer?

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Placing your patient into another doctor’s hands is a big decision. We realize that, as a family veterinarian, you know what is medically best for your patients. Your clients look to you for medical information and recommendations. So why should you refer a case to a specialty doctor? Sometimes, cases:

  • Are uncommon for a family veterinary practice. For example, a particular surgical procedure may not be performed by the family vet with any regularity.
  • Require special expertise or need special equipment not used by a typical family practice.


Referring a client to a specialist benefits everyone involved:

  • Patients receive high-level care in a particular area of practice.
  • The primary care doctor shows their genuine care and concern for the health and well-being of the pet.
  • The specialist serves as an extension of the life-long commitment the family practitioner has made to provide the best healthcare possible for the pet.

Practitioners have an ethical responsibility to offer referrals, but should also keep in mind the increasing trend of a litigious society. If a referral to a qualified specialist is not offered, there may be potential liability for failure or complications.