Welcome to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

1. Referrals and second opinions

Updated 18 March 2014


1.1  Veterinary surgeons should facilitate a client’s request for a referral or second opinion.

1.2  A referral may be for a diagnosis, procedure and/or possible treatment, after which the case is returned to the referring veterinary surgeon, whereas a second opinion is only for the purpose of seeking the views of another veterinary surgeon.


When to refer

1.3  Veterinary surgeons should recognise when a case or a treatment option is outside their area of competence and be prepared to refer it to a colleague whom they are satisfied is competent to carry out the investigations or treatment involved.

1.4  The referring veterinary surgeon has a responsibility to ensure that the client is made aware of the level of expertise of appropriate and reasonably available referral veterinary surgeons, for example, whether they are RCVS Recognised Specialists, European specialists or certificate holders.

1.5  Both the referring veterinary surgeon and the referral veterinary surgeon have a responsibility to ensure that the client has an understanding of the likely cost arising from the referral.


Referring a case

1.6  The initial contact should be made by the referring veterinary surgeon, and the client should be asked to arrange the appointment. 

1.7  The referring veterinary surgeon should provide the referral veterinary surgeon with the case history. Any further information that may be requested should be supplied promptly.   

1.8  The referral veterinary surgeon should discuss the case with the client including the likely costs of the referral work and report back on the case to the primary veterinary surgeon.


Second opinions

1.9  Veterinary surgeons should follow similar procedures for second opinions and ensure that any differences of opinion between the veterinary surgeons are discussed and explained constructively.

See also the supporting guidance on ‘Providing the service – referrals’, 3.5-3.7

Website developed by netXtra