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Peer Review System for Animal Health Protocols

What is the Purpose?

In dairy herds, protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are essential management tools for guiding decisions and criteria used for the diagnosis and treatment of specific health conditions (e.g., metritis, mastitis) as well as to standardize management practices (e.g., milking routine, colostrum administration to calves, castration, dehorning). For instance, a written protocol provides information on “what to do” (e.g., treatment for a specific disease) and the SOPs within the protocol describes, systematically, “how to do it” (operational steps and resources needed to perform a given protocol).

Protocols are customized and farm-specific, and practicing veterinarians are often asked to develop and write protocols for individual farms, particularly health protocols. Furthermore, many retailers are requesting that their suppliers (e.g., dairy and beef farms), either via in-house or through third party audits, document health and management practices for the food animals under their care. With the scrutiny of antimicrobial use and welfare practices in food animals always under the watchful eye of consumers, retailers, legislators, and activists; it is crucial that we use the best herd-health management practices that comply with federal/state regulations while also considering the health and well-being of the animal. Therefore, the review of health protocols is a key component of the auditing process, and veterinarians are expected to develop best care practices and ovoid drug residues entering the food chain.

OSU Veterinary Extension has developed a prototype “double-blind peer review system” that would provide a mechanism for dairy veterinarians to submit their protocols electronically for review. In science, a peer-review process serves as the “quality control” for published manuscripts. We have worked with other dairy veterinarians and their clients over the past couple of years, and they have expressed strong support for an approach to review protocols. This peer-review process would be entirely confidential and anonymous.

The long-term goal of this initiative is to provide new resources to enhance management and services of practicing veterinarians to improve food safety and security at the herd level; and thus, consumer trust.  

How Does it Work?

  1. A veterinarian submits one or more protocols to OSU Veterinary Extension. There would be a small processing fee to cover cost of this service (e.g., $20 per page). 
  2. The editor within Veterinary Extension (e.g., Dr. Gustavo Schuenemann) will remove any identifiable information and send it to two or three separate confidential reviewers who are selected based on the specific expertise needed.
  3. The reviewers will provide suggestions and comments to improve the protocol (e.g., content, regulatory compliance, latest technology, clarity).
  4. The editor will then send the information (comments and suggestions) back to the original veterinarian without revealing the names of the reviewers. Pictures and logos are not provided.

* Reviewers will initially consist of experts (e.g., academia, industry) from around the country.  However, the goal will be to eventually include those who are regularly submitting protocols to serve as blind reviewers for others.

How To Submit a Protocol?

Use of this peer review process is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Protocols are farm-specific and customized to meet the individual needs of a specific operation.  It is not intended to replace the local expertise and professional discretion of the veterinarian of record, who is ultimately responsible for servicing his/her client-herds. The Ohio State University and cooperating veterinarians assume no liability in providing feedback including recommendations and suggested changes.  Reliance on any information provided through this process is solely at your own risk.