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Accreditation Standards for Veterinary Facilities

Veterinary facility accreditation standards ensure veterinary practices in Ontario support the provision of safe, quality veterinary care to the public.

New Accreditation Standards for Veterinary Facilities in Ontario 

Veterinary facility accreditation standards ensure veterinary practices support the delivery of safe, quality veterinary care to the public. Veterinarians and the public can be assured that practices with a Certificate of Accreditation have been inspected and meet facility accreditation standards for the delivery of veterinary medicine in Ontario.

The objectives of the accreditation standards are to:

  • Provide assurance that a facility meets the standards of quality and safety that are deemed essential to all facilities
  • Ensure all veterinary facilities adhere to a set of approved standards
  • Provide a model of facility accreditation that reflects the services and scopes of practice that are relevant to a specific facility and its scope of practice
  • Have a flexible and progressive accreditation program that adapts to the evolving nature of practice

How does the new facility accreditation model work? 

The Facility Director, who is a veterinarian, demonstrates to the College how the practice meets the facility standards that apply to the veterinary services they provide. The new model recognizes there may be numerous ways to meet the standard.  All facilities will be required to meet a set of Essential Standards that apply to all scopes of practice and species (e.g., infection control, biosecurity, medical records, etc.). Additional required standards will be specific to the veterinary services provided (i.e., surgery, radiology). 

Each practice pays an annual accreditation fee based on their scope of practice. A smaller, limited scope of practice may only need to meet the Essential Standards. A larger, full-service practice will need to meet the Essential Standards and the Additional Scope of Services Standards that would apply to their scope of practice. 

Facilities that meet all the standards at the time of inspection receive a five-year Certificate of Accreditation, meaning that the certificate will expire five years after it is issued. Those facilities that do not meet all the standards will have 30 days to demonstrate full compliance to receive a five-year Certificate of Accreditation. If there are still standards that are not met after 30 days, the facility will be referred to the Accreditation Committee for a decision on the Certificate of Accreditation, which may include a condition that it expire at an earlier date than five years. There is an increased annual fee for practices whose certificate expires earlier than five years.

FAQs on the new accreditation standards

Two written documents are required:
  • Essential Standards – Safety Management: The practice has a written emergency preparedness plan including fire safety.
  • Essential Standards – Biosecurity and Biomedical Waste Management: The practice has a written policy for dealing with infectious and zoonotic cases, as well as overall infection control, such that team members are aware of said policy.
Yes, practices that perform ultrasonography may have in-house equipment, or they may have a third-party service provider (who may be an itinerant veterinarian or a non-veterinarian) who works with the practice to perform ultrasonography for the practice’s clients with their own equipment that they bring with them to the facility. Facility directors would select Additional Scope of Practice Service (ASPS) – Ultrasound in these cases.
For companion animal practice, the College's Council has taken the position that it is in the public interest for a veterinarian who is working from an accredited facility, but who does not have an accredited mobile, to be able to attend on rare occasions at the animal(s)' location when an in-person premise visit is in the best interest of the client and/or animal(s). If you were advertising that your practice provides house call services, then you would need to choose ASPS – Mobile.
The Critical Care Standard would be selected by hospitals that routinely or regularly provide treatment for animals requiring critical care services. These are patients whose conditions require constant, close monitoring and support with equipment and medication for maintaining normal body functions. It applies to any hospital that will be hospitalizing patients in critical condition who require continuous care and monitoring.
The requirement for there to be an on-duty veterinarian on premise is when there is a critical case being treated and monitored. Once the patient is no longer critical, the veterinarian determines if they need to be on premise. The veterinarian can also determine if another on-duty team member needs to be on premise, once the patient is no longer critical.
Most hospitals that are currently considered emergency clinics, or are currently providing 24/7 care, and those that are equipped with an intensive care unit (ICU) are the types of practices who will likely be selecting this standard. If a hospital never or rarely hospitalizes a critical case that requires intensive close monitoring, then they would not select this standard.
The new accreditation standards require facilities to do monthly controlled drug audits. When they are due for their next inspection, the facility director will be expected to show the inspector that they are performing audits of their controlled drug inventory monthly. They can do it more often if the facility director chooses, but the College requires it to be performed monthly. The requirement for the monthly controlled drug audit is now applicable to both companion animal and large animal facilities.
For companion animal dentistry, it requires an allocated dental space that is available for dental procedures to reduce contamination of other areas and minimize aerosol contamination. When dental procedures are performed in a facility, they are performed in a room separate from the surgical suite. The guidance notes provide things to reflect on related to what measures might be in place to minimize aerosol contamination. This might be achieved through a ventilation system or other means like suction tips and extraction fans. The point is that the practice has a means to minimize aerosol contamination.