Refer a Patient

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One of the primary functions of the Veterinary Medical Center is to assist private practitioners in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of unusual or complicated cases. We welcome such cases through referral from a veterinarian or through private consultation as needed.

Updated July 28, 2021 — Call before bringing or sending a small animal patient. The John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital at the UTCVM Veterinary Medical Center is experiencing intermittent personnel shortages. This is affecting the ability of our Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) service to provide for patients most in need of our services. A downloadable pdf of this information is available here.

Scheduling Instructions for Referring Veterinarians

Option 1: Fax or email the completed referral form

Please allow 48 business hours for the client to be contacted for an appointment.

Option 2: To schedule an appointment on behalf of your client, contact Client Services (note: some small animal services require reviewing the completed referral form and pertinent medical history prior to scheduling an appointment).

  • Call (865) 974-8387 Monday-Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (closed weekend and major holidays)
  • Email vetclientservices@utk.edu OR
  • Contact the small animal referral coordinator if you have questions on what service to refer to. Emergencies-see option #4

Option 3: Contact our Small Animal Referral Coordinator if you need assistance determining what service the case should be referred to or if would like to discuss medical aspects before arranging an appointment.

  • Call (865) 974-3939 Monday-Friday 8:00 AM-5:00 PM (closed weekend and major holidays) OR
  • Email utvetref@utk.edu
  • Emergencies-see option #4

Option 4: Emergencies

To discuss urgent cases or emergency referrals:

  • Call (865) 974-8387 and inform the operator of your emergent situation. You will be directed to the appropriate personnel. Please do not fax or email the referral form or send the patient without calling first. Monday–Friday 8:00AM and 5:00PM (small animal by referral only).
  • After regular business hours, call (865) 974-8387 and ask for the receiving emergency clinician

Fax or email a copy of the pertinent medical history, diagnostic testing results, and imaging at least 48 business hours before your client’s appointment. Incomplete referral forms will not be accepted and will delay the referral process.

General Referral Policy and Veterinary Communication

Although the UTCVM clinician/surgeon and referring veterinarian may have previously discussed a case prior to the animal being seen at the hospital, it is necessary and, in the patient’s, best interest that pertinent case history, recent test results, and surgery and medication information be provided at least 48 hours before the appointment along with the completed referral form. The person that discusses the case with the referring veterinarian prior to the patient’s arrival is not always the same person to admit and treat the patient.

Small animal services that require a referral from a licensed veterinarian are:

  • Cardiology
  • Dentistry/oral surgery
  • Daytime Emergency
  • Medical and Radiation Oncology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Nutrition
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Soft Tissue Surgery
  • Veterinary Imaging Service (CT/MRI)
  • Veterinary Obesity Center

Small animal services that do not require a referral are:

  • After-Hour Emergency
  • Avian/Exotics/Zoo
  • Behavior- referral not required but a primary veterinarian is required to be involved on the case
  • Dermatology (referral preferred)
  • Physical Rehabilitation

For detailed instructions on completing and forwarding referral forms and medical documentation/imaging, please visit the Small Animal Specific Referral Guidelines listed below.

Large Animal Services: Food Animal, Equine and Field Services do not require a referral. If a patient is being referred, please complete the appropriate referral form: https://tiny.utk.edu/RDVMresources

Communication with our Referring Veterinarians
Automated Communication System: Each clinic can choose how to receive automated communications from UTCVM. The choices include fax, email or letter (appointment bookings are excluded from letter format).

  1. Appointment Booking Notices: When an appointment is scheduled at UTCVM, the referring veterinarian will receive an appointment booking notification by email or fax. The referring veterinarian will also receive any cancelation, reschedule or no-show appointment notifications. Clinics can opt out of receiving these appointment notifications by emailing and letting us know at utvetref@utk.edu
  2. Arrival Notices: When a referred patient arrives, the referring veterinarian will receive an automated arrival notification. The referring veterinarian is encouraged to contact the receiving clinician at any time, concerning the progress of a hospitalized case.
  3. Discharge Notices: When the patient is discharged, the referring veterinarian will receive a copy of the discharge instructions that was given to the client. In some instances, referral letters will be sent following the discharge instructions. Upon discharge, clients are instructed to return the patient to their referring veterinarian for follow-up. There will be times when it is necessary for the patient to return to UTCVM for additional care or testing. This information will be indicated in the discharge instructions.
  4. Automated Veterinarian Communication Notes: These communications may be utilized for various reasons: UTCVM visit updates, necropsy reports, follow-up after communication with client, patient death notice, reply to a referring veterinarian’s inquiry, or if we are unable to reach the referring veterinarian by phone.

VOLVet Portal: Clinics can sign up for access to the VOLVet Portal. Veterinarians and their appointed clinic staff will have access to review all forms of automated veterinary communications, UTCVM test results and necropsy reports. Access is available from anywhere a computer and internet service are available.

Phone Communication: There will be times that our clinicians will communicate with referring veterinarians via phone. Please make sure you have provided us with your current contact numbers. Phone numbers that do not accept blocked calls may delay or preclude our clinicians from communicating via phone.

Professional Consults: If you need to discuss medical aspects of a case, please review this form: https://tiny.utk.edu/UTCVMConsultations

After Hour Hospitalized Patient Updates: Updates are sent through the automated system and available on the VOLVetPortal. If the referring veterinarian needs additional information, the veterinarian may call the main clinic number (865) 974-8387 and ask to speak with the clinician or responsible service. While the clinician on the case may not be available at the time you call, a message will be relayed to the responsible service to communicate with the referring veterinarian at their next available opportunity.

Download a Referral Form

  1. Referral Form – A referral is REQUIRED from practicing veterinarians. Please download, complete and return the form.  Referral forms can be located here: https://tiny.utk.edu/RDVMresources
    • Filling out the referral form – The referral form must be completed in its entirety.  Incomplete referral forms will not be accepted and will delay the referral process. Here are some additional instructions and information to consider: 
      • We communicate appointment scheduling and relay important pre-visit instructions with the client primarily via email.  Please make every effort to include a valid client email address on the referral form.
      • The Reason for Referral and Pertinent History sections on the general small animal referral form must contain a brief summary. The phrases “see attached”, “see history” or similar phrases will not be accepted and referrals will be returned to the referring veterinarian to complete.  This information is required to properly and efficiently schedule the appointment.  
      • There are designated sections for you to check if lab testing and/or radiographs were performed.  Please complete these sections and let us know how we can expect to receive copies. 
      • Indicate in the bottom right-hand corner of the referral form what service you are referring to.  If you are not sure, please call and discuss the case with the referral coordinator prior to sending us the form.  If the client arrives and it is determined the patient was referred to the incorrect service, their visit will have to be rescheduled for the first available appointment with the appropriate service.  We cannot guarantee the appropriate service can evaluate the patient that same day.  Multiple service referrals may not be able to be accommodated on the same day.  Please inform your client that they may need to return for additional appointments. 
      • Referral forms and pertinent medical history should be sent at least 48 business hours before the patient’s appointment at UTCVM. 
      • Emailed referral forms and medical records are preferred due to unreliability of fax transmissions.
      • Questions? Reach out to the referral coordinator-(865) 974-3939

  2. Pertinent medical history and diagnostic imaging – In addition to the Referral form, please include:
    • Case history, including pertinent medical records from previous six months to one year. Please do not send the entire medical record
    • If you are sending medical records digitally, please combine all pages into ONE PDF before attaching to an email.   We cannot accept emails with numerous attachments (no more than three).  This does not pertain to radiographs/images.  We also cannot accept numerous emails or zipped files.  It is best for the history to arrive on the same email as the referral.  Most veterinary medical records software programs allow for medical records to be combined into one PDF document by date range.  Please contact your medical records software company for technical assistance.  All documents should be attachments and not embedded in the body of the email.  If you cannot combine the documents, please fax or mail them instead.  If you have questions, please reach out to us.
    • ​Current list of medications
    • Current lab work from the previous 6 months to one year.
    • Most current vaccination record for proof of vaccine and aid in diagnosis
    • Previous surgeries related to admitting complaint
    • Radiographs and imaging (refer to #4 below)

  3. Getting the Referral form and pertinent medical history to us:
    • Email utvetref@utk.edu
    • Standard Referral FAX: (865) 974-0174
    • Or mail to:
      UTCVM Veterinary Medical Center
      Attn: Appointment Desk
      2407 River Drive
      Knoxville, TN 37996-4546

  4. Diagnostic images and imaging reports 
    • Images should pertain to admitting complaint. If anesthesia is required and you have performed recent chest radiographs please submit those as well. 
    • All images should be in DICOM format as Bitmap, JPEG, and TIFF images are not of digital quality and will not be accepted. Please send original images and not photographs or screenshots.
    • Radiographs and/or images are best sent directly to our picture archiving and communication system (PACS) or emailed to utvetref@utk.edu
    • You may request our PACS connection information via phone or email. Image submissions are not for radiographic interpretation and should only be submitted as part of a case consultation or referral. Please include the name of the pet, client, date or exams and pertinent information for all imaging submitted. 
    • Google Drive links and UT Vault messages cannot be retrieved when sent to utvetref@utk.edu. Large files can be shared via PACS or sent to a personal email via the UT Vault- https://vault.utk.edu/. Please contact the Image Facilitator for further instructions.

      Films or CD’s may be mailed to:
      UTCVM – Small Animal Clinical Sciences Attn: Radiology 
      2407 River Drive C247
      Knoxville, TN 37996-4544

      If you need copies of your patient’s diagnostic images or have questions, please reach out to our Image Facilitator by phone at (865) 974-2223, Radiology at (865) 974-5809 or by emailing utvetref@utk.edu

  1. If a patient is being referred by a practicing veterinarian, please download, complete and return the referral form for either Farm Animal or Equine Animal.
  2. For non-referral and referral cases, please contact the reception desk in the Large Animal Veterinary Medical Center at (865) 974-8387 for an appointment or for emergency service after normal working hours.

Referral recommended but not required.