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Article 517: Addiction - Substance Abuse Part Two
Substance abuse is problematic for veterinarians because clients (pet owners) have quickly figured out that veterinary practices are, potentially, a stable source of mind-altering drugs. Veterinarians frequently prescribe medication for pain management in pets; however, pet owners battling addiction may abuse those prescription drugs intended for their pets.
Article 516: Addiction - Substance Abuse
Part One: Addiction in Veterinarians
Substance dependency is an equal-opportunity disease, affecting the dependent individual and all who surround him or her - and the veterinary profession hasn’t escaped. Society tends to view addiction as a defect of people with compromised morals; however, it is more fairly compared to having a disease.
Article 515: Setting Boundaries
Not setting boundaries is a common issue for many VDA members and veterinarians worldwide. Feelings of anger and guilt are a direct consequence, and these feelings lead to mental and emotional stress, and then burnout, possibly followed by self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
Article 514: Controlling Your Clinical Notes
This article relates to a VDA member, Dr A, who sought advice from the VDA regarding a client’s request for the clinical history of her puppy.
Article 514: Mrs X's Board Complaint Exonerates the Veterinarian... (yet the board continues with prosecution)
This case happens to be in South Africa, but could apply equally to veterinary boards in the USA, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong.
Article 513: The Right To Terminate Your Relationship With A Client (Without interference from the SAVC)
Mrs X presented her dog to Drs A and B’s practice with multiple concerns, including excessive aggression. However, Mrs X’s own aggressive behavior towards the consulting vet and lay staff during the consultation was so unacceptable – this was the first consult, remember - that the practice decided they could not continue the relationship with her and requested that she take her animal elsewhere.
Article 512: Comment On Letter From The SAVC Regarding The VDA's Last Barks 'n Bytes
Although this article relates to the South African Veterinary Council, the issues discussed here are just as valid for almost every other veterinary board in the world.
Article 511: The Dangers Of Proceeding With Unscreened Complaints
The NSW Veterinary Practitioners Board, as with all professional vocational boards, has the duty to screen a complaint before placing the accused veterinarian on his or her defence.
Article 510: A Gross Misapplication Of The Law Regarding Veterinary Discipline
Dr A explained his findings to Mrs X in detail using a flow diagram of decision making from Ettinger’s in relation to the signs and test results. Dr A gave Mrs X some options for further testing, treatment and referral to a specialist, as well as time to consider these.
Article 509: Honesty In Veterinary Practice
Honesty is a facet of moral character whereby we make the conscious decision not to lie, steal, cheat, or deceive in any way. When we are honest and truthful, we build strength of character that will allow us to be tried in a fair manner and be viewed as accountable for our actions.
Article 508: Like Pulling Teeth
In this Barks ‘n Bytes we discuss the case of a member in which her veterinary board made an irrational and unlawful ruling against her.
Article 507: Mitigating The Risks Of Sexual Harrassment
How to Deal with Sexual Harassment in the Practice and Mitigating the Risk. Veterinary medicine is an equal opportunity profession. However, historical limitations on university admissions may result in older men working with younger ladies in the same practice.
Article 506: What Is Your Opinion? Veterinarian In The UK Struck Off
The VDA would like to hear your opinions about the article below. What should the criteria be for temporarily stopping a vet from treating animals? What should the criteria be for permanently preventing a vet from treating animals?
Article 505: Confidentiality
Information security breaches in the modern business environment may occur through various means, including theft, deliberate attacks on electronic systems, unauthorised use of personal information of data subjects by an employee, accidental loss or even equipment failure.
Article 504: Burnout
High achievers and Type A personalities, such as many of those in the medical and veterinary field, are often known to ignore or even try to normalize the fact that they are working excessively long hours with heavy work-loads, while at the same time putting a great deal of pressure on themselves to excel.
Article 503: Things You Should Learn About In Veterinary School - Part Two
Last week we began the topic of things that should be taught in veterinary school, but never are. Here are some other important subjects that we believe should be introduced in order to support the veterinarian in practice.
Article 502: Things You Should Learn About In Veterinary School - Part One
Article 501: What To Do When A Client Wants To Record Their Pets Examination
“Doctor, may I record our consultation today? ”The question of whether or not clients should be allowed to record visits with their veterinarians is a pertinent one. With the ever-increasing global popularity of SmartPhones clients have a recording device right in their pockets, accessible within seconds.
Article 500:Another Veterinarian Gets Violated By The SAVC
This is another case in which the South African Veterinary Council has failed to screen and dismiss a frivolous, vexatious and groundless case and is proceeding with an unlawful investigation and prosecution of a vet.
Article 499: The Quandaries of Confidentiality
Client confidentiality is a tricky subject that creates many quandaries for members.
Article 498: “Disagreeable” Conduct does not necessarily amount to “Professional Misconduct”
In December 2017, an article was featured on the www.vetsurgeon.org website about a Northamptonshire-based veterinarian who had been found not guilty of serious professional misconduct after he had posted derogatory remarks about his employer on Facebook.
Article 497: Saying Sorry... Something You Shouldn't Do!
One of our Australian members was recently provided with a link to an article titled “The importance of saying sorry” by the Veterinary Council of New Zealand.
Article 496: Broken Windows For Vets
During “second opinion” consultations the accepted norm is for the second-opinion veterinarian to contact the veterinarian first approached by the client to explain that they have taken over the treatment and to discuss the background and history of the case.
Article 495: Full Deposits and Altering Consent Forms
The VDA has recently dealt with a case where the client dropped off his dog and left – asking for the consent form to be emailed to him. He did not pay a deposit.
Article 494: The Risks of Corporate...
Corporate ownership of practices may have financial benefits, but there are consequent risks. One of the problems is that nurses and lay staff tend to take over non-income-producing functions such as admission and discharge.
Article 493: Standing Up For Your Rights
Veterinary boards are creatures of statute that are given the powers to regulate the veterinary profession and to discipline veterinarians by the state and society on the principle that professional conduct is reviewed by a panel of peers.
Article 492: Locums and Responsibilities
Locums often ask the VDA whether the practice (and therefore the owner of the practice) or the veterinarian who is on duty is legally responsible for claims and complaints?
Article 491: Dispensing Drugs
On November 30th, 2017, the www.iol.co.za and www.thenewage.co.za websites in South Africa published an article which caught the attention of the VDA and which validates the concerns we have with regards to members (and non-members alike) who practice haphazardly and illegitimately by dispensing scheduled drugs to lay persons.
Article 490: No Consent, No Treatment
The most important thing that every veterinarian can do to manage their cases well is to obtain written informed consent to treatment for any animal that they are presented with.
Article 489: Absolutely Absurd!
Mrs X’s dog had Polyurea/Polydipsia and drank many litres of water through the night. However, when Mrs X presented her dog to Dr A the next day, she said that she did not have money for Dr A to run tests or do treatments.
Article 488: Violence Against Healthcare Workers Around The World
According to different sources and recent studies, the statistics are alarming!
Article 487: When Things Don’t Go As Planned!
Have you ever done your utmost to treat a case to the best of your ability and yet everything that the textbooks say should happen, doesn’t? We are sure that every veterinarian has been met with this scenario – known as an “adverse outcome”.
Article 486: Signs of a Greater Malaise?
The VDA read with interest an article on the www.abc.net.au website, published on September 15th, 2017, and entitled “Adelaide lawyer implicated in maladministration and misconduct, SA ombudsman finds”.
Article 485: Bullying Boards!
The VDA recently dealt with two complaints that were laid at the veterinary board that should have been properly screened and dismissed. Instead, the board chose to send the veterinarians both a “please explain” letter – thereby placing the veterinarians on their defence and creating unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Article 484: Veterinary Suicide
Approximately one million people die by suicide each year worldwide. According to the Canadian Veterinary Journal, the number of lives lost through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined.
Article 483: Assertiveness - And A Good Dose Of Patience!
Article 482: Failing To Refer
Article 481: Supplementing Clinical Notes
Article 480: The Invisible Responsibilities
Article 479: Pet owners are grateful for information
Mr and Mrs X presented their aged small breed dog to Dr A as they were concerned about bloat. Dr A examined the dog thoroughly and performed blood tests, but nothing abnormal was detected, at this time.
Article 478: The Value of a Post Mortem
A post mortem should be offered in every case of unexpected death. The post mortem should ideally be performed by an independent specialist pathologist.
Article 477: Your Word Against Theirs
Emotions can run high when an emergency comes along for admission. In such emotionally charged situations, the value of obtaining a full deposit and a signed consent form is inestimable. Many practices have numerous staff such as multiple veterinarians, nurses, and multiple receptionists.
Article 476: Why Clause 5 of the VDA’s Informed Consent to Treatment Form Is Important
The VDA’s Informed Consent to Treatment form has been honed and perfected over the years to assist our members in practicing defensively. Despite our reminders, we are aware of many members who are still using older versions of this form and who have not consulted the VDA website to download the latest handbook which contains the most updated versions of all the consent forms.
Article 474: Treating An Animal Without Consent Carries High Risk! And It Is Unlawful.
Article 473: What is ADR?
The law prefers complainants to exhaust avenues of reconciliation prior to approaching the courts and tribunals for relief. ADR, which stands for Alternate Dispute Resolution is an ideal forum to achieve these aims.
Article 472: Unpleasant Outcomes!
South African veterinarians are no strangers to fractious clients with unreasonable expectations.Mrs X presented her pregnant bitch with a green vaginal discharge to our member, Dr A, and informed Dr A that no puppies had been born yet.
Article 471: In response to “A Current SAVC Disciplinary Case”
On 5 February 2017, in a comment on page 18 of the Rules, the Legal Director of the SAVC, Mrs Dinamarie Stoltz, published the following ‘policy statement’ from the SAVC
Article 470: A Current SAVC Disciplinary Case
Article 469: Just Not Just
The Western Australia Veterinary Surgeons Board is an interesting subject for study when it comes to veterinary board attitude and competence.
Article 468: Saved from a Veterinary Board case!
Mrs X presented her 14 week old puppy to Dr A as he had stopped eating the previous day. Mrs X told Dr A that the puppy had never been vaccinated. Upon examination, Dr A found that the puppy was bright and alert and his temperature as well as other clinical signs were normal. The puppy was not vomiting and did not have diarrhea.
Article 467: SWOT Analysis For You And Your Practice
Article 466: Veterinary Boards And The Law
In administering their disciplinary processes, veterinary boards do not act in a vacuum, but operate under the constraints of the legal system, in much the same way that courts operate.
Article 465: Maslow’s Hierarchy In The Veterinary World
Article 464: Global Cyber-Attacks - Wanna Cry?
This week you may have noticed the publicity surrounding an unprecedented global cyber-attack called “Wanna.Cry” which has infected almost a million computers in 150 countries. This malware is part of a group of computer attacks known as cryptovirus and ransomware.
Article 463: The Dangers of Assumption
Daisy, a little diabetic dog belonging to Mrs X, was suffering from all the ills that unfortunately befall a diabetic. Daisy had recently been to the Eye Specialist for cataract complications, and had been on anti-inflammatories for some time.
Article 462: Brownie Points
Veterinarians need to beware of making demeaning comments to their clients, regarding the treatment choices made by other veterinarians.
Article 461: Dont Get Sued
Which type of practitioner within the veterinary profession do you think would be more likely to receive complaints and get sued? Over the 25 years the VDA has been assisting veterinarians the answer to this question has emerged as twofold: Emergency room practitioners - and Locums.
Article 460: Clients Need Boundries!
Many cases in which the VDA assists our members could have been avoided from the start, if only the veterinarian had set professional boundaries with their clients and not acted from their hearts or tried to be martyrs – allowing clients to take advantage of the kind nature that comes with being a veterinarian.
Article 459: Recording of Consultations
Recently, www.thedoctorweighsin.com website published an article titled “What To Do When Patients Want To Record Their Doctor Visits”. This seems to be a regular occurrence in the human medical world and the VDA has dealt with a recent case where a client used her smart-phone to record an altercation in the veterinarian’s waiting room.
Article 458: A Big No-No!
Article 457: Taking a full deposit can save your practice!
The VDA has always advised our members to take a full deposit on admission of an animal.
Article 456: “Special Value”
According to numerous online reports, a jury in Orange County, California, awarded a man $39 000 in a malpractice suit against two veterinarians whose actions were found to have resulted in the death of his dog in February this year.
Article 455: Ordering Human Medication
Article 454: The “One That Got Away”
Article 452: A Complicated Matter!
Mrs X was given a dog by Mrs Y (the breeder), on condition that the dog may be used for breeding when called upon. After honoring this agreement on one occasion, Mrs X was angry to see that her dog had a sore leg and was limping.
Article 451: Health Certification
The VDA has always advised members that they should not certify that any animal is “fit for travel” or is “healthy”. All a veterinarian can reasonably and legally say is that no signs of illness or injury were found in the presented animal. No matter how many tests you do, there will always be unidentified and unidentifiable problems. For example, there may be an aneurism or a genetic disorder that will express itself just after you certify that the animal is “healthy”.
Article 450: Social Media and You
Article 449: Path Reports - “FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE”
Article 448: Third Party Threat
Dr A requested guidance from the VDA on how to legally and ethically deal with a situation in which a third party is involved in the treatment of an animal. For example: The owners go away on holiday and their dog is in the care of a friend, sitter, neighbor or family member.
Article 447: No Quick Fixes!
Article 446: Take a Full Deposit!
Article 445: The Trap Of Giving An Opinion
Dr A was approached by Mrs X, who was seeking a second opinion on radiographs of her deceased dog. However, Mrs X and her dog were unknown to Dr A and Dr A was extremely concerned about giving an opinion on the presented radiographs he had been presented with.
Article 444: Adopt A Stray Animal Policy!
Article 443: Defend Your Reputation!
Dr A was presented one evening with an overweight, panting dog which was reluctant to move. The dog was found to have otitis externa, moderate spinal pain and a weak right hind leg.
Article 442: Dealing With Pet Insurance Companies
Recently, the VDA published articles for the VDA Australia on this subject but we have since had requests for guidance when it comes to handing over clinical records to pet insurance companies by members in other countries.
Article 441: ADR and Ex Gratia
We often have requests for copies of a VDA approved, standard ex gratia letter for when members think they may need to waive fees or write off a client account. Some practice owners simply write off an account if a client complains - in the hope that this will appease the owner and thwart a Board or civil complaint.
Article 440: Beware of Phishing for Information in the Veterinary World!
Dr A, a Canadian member, contacted the VDA for assistance when her clinic experienced an issue with regards to sharing medical records on a mobile application.
Article 439: Did the Owner Consent?
Article 438: The not-so-stray Stray
Mr X took a dog who was severely malnourished, dehydrated, had an injured eye, fractured teeth, mammary tumors, needed spaying and was infested with fleas to Dr A for treatment. Mr X told Dr A that the dog was a stray – but as you will read, it was later discovered that the dog belonged to Mr X’s neighbor.
Article 437: A $90 000 mistake!
Now here is a story that will make every veterinarian cringe! Never fear though, the VDA has some great advice to protect our members from a similar situation.
Article 436: Helping Clients Deal With Euthanasia
As a Veterinary professional, there will be no avoiding the stressful task of euthanasia. Fortunately though, there are ways of not only coping with euthanasia but of helping your clients and patients through this traumatic procedure. We hope that the information provided below will help veterinarians in managing everyone involved in getting through this peacefully and calmly.
Article 435: No Challenge Too Big!
Helping suffering animals and stressed-out owners can be grueling and veterinarians often need emotional support as well as administrative advice when things get out of hand. VDA members should remember that we are only a phone call or email away - 24 hours a day.
Article 434: Dealing With Anger
This article will assist you in your practice when facing angry and irrational people, or when you find you have become worked up over an issue and need some coping mechanisms.
Article 433: What Veterinarians Should Know About Litigation
Article 432: “I just can’t pay, Doc!”
A very common question that the VDA hears is: “What should I do when a dog has recovered and is ready to go home but the owners do not collect the dog, do not answer their telephones and do not return messages, or they want to collect the dog but do not have sufficient funds to settle the account?”
Article 431: Post Mortem Support
Dr A had been in practice for a long time and was considered to be a very experienced veterinarian by his colleagues and clients alike.
Article 430: How to Handle the Client who won’t Spend the Money
Dr A was presented with Mrs X’s cat which was inappetant, dyspnoeic and tachycardic. There were increased respiratory sounds and dull heart sounds on the left side of the chest. The cat had been on a course of antibiotics for a couple of days and was not showing any signs of improvement.
Article 429: The Importance of Taking History!
Mrs X had been taking her pets to a particular veterinary practice for treatment for some time, so it was rather peculiar when she decided to take her dog to Dr A (who had never treated any of her animals before) to be spayed.
Article 428: Dr A Is On Top Of The Insurance Game!
Last week, we issued an article on “The Ins and Outs of Pet Insurance” in which we discussed the AVA’s promotion of Pet Insurance companies to veterinarians and the many minefields and transgressions that veterinarians are at serious risk of committing when dealing with insured pets.
Article 427: The Ins and Outs of Pet Insurance
Pet Insurance schemes have become a very active part of the day to day operations of a veterinary practice in many parts of the world. The Pet Insurance Product is well marketed and widely advertised and more and more owners are signing up for medical insurance for their pets in response.
Article 426: Staying Up Nights
Veterinarians are required to meet the minimum standards of professional conduct, and one of these duties is the aspect of overnight monitoring. Patients in hospital must be monitored overnight - or alternatively, vets need to make it clear to the animal owner that their facility does not provide overnight monitoring.
Article 425: Complaints Cause Stress
In every interaction with clients and their animals, the client has both preconceived ideas as well as notions that arise from the experience itself. Preconceived ideas are often based on the expectations that pet owners have absorbed from the human medical world, and may not be tempered by any understanding of what is reasonable or achievable by the veterinary profession that operates under severe financial constraints by comparison.
Article 424: Board Requirements for Record Keeping
Around the world, Veterinary Boards are showing a tendency to pile on more and more requirements for the parameters of treatments that veterinarians must record. The boards seem to have little regard for the burden that all these requirements create for veterinarians in terms of time and loss of income.
Article 423: No problem too big or too small!
Mr and Mrs X had been attending Dr A’s veterinary clinic for some two years and had always been very pleased with Dr A and his staff‘s dealings with their nervous young dog.
Article 422: An Examination of the Veterinary Practitioners Board of New South Wales’s Article Regarding Informed Consent
In law, informed consent to treatment consists of three components: Information, Appreciation and Consent.
Article 421: Dealing With Complaints
Good service and a good reputation are two factors that galvanize your business. Complaints have the potential to de-rail this “thrive drive”, and dealing with a complaint can be tricky and unpredictable. However, there are some tried and tested steps that help to deal with complaints effectively.
Article 420:The Curious Case of the Incredible Dr Pol
In this article, we look at a recent development in the curious case of Dr Pol, being the judgement handed down by the Michigan Court of Appeals in June 2016 and the potential significance of this judgement to you as a practicing veterinarian.
Article 419: NSW bans greyhound racing!
Earlier this month, the NSW’s Premier, Mike Baird made the decision to ban Greyhound racing due to reported widespread mistreatment of animals. The NSW Government set up a special commission of inquiry in response to a Four Corners program that was shown on ABC TV in 2015.
Article 418: The Pet Shop Wins
Dr A owns a veterinary facility which has come to an arrangement with a nearby pet shop. As a way of introducing new clients to Dr A’s facility, Dr A and his team of veterinarians have entered into an ‘understanding’ with the pet shop.
Article 417: Suicide In The Veterinary World
The veterinary profession has the highest suicide rate of all professions – some reports say it is four times higher than the general population and twice as high as doctors and dentists. The causes we are able to identify stem from an over-identification with animals in pain, fatigue, irregular hours, overwhelming workloads, the expectations and demands of clients, working in an environment of psychological or physical isolation and lack of tools or resources to deal with stress.
Article 416: Promising Reports...
The VDA generally advises our members to never give reports and to not promise to give reports. There are a number of reasons for this.
Article 415: Grey Areas In The Regulation Veterinary Practice
Over our 24 years of operation, the VDA has observed a number of grey areas creeping into the veterinary laws and statutes that govern our profession and we have seen how such grey areas impact on our members, resulting in unnecessary stress, financial loss, or even de-registration to practice.
Article 414: Dealing with Adverse Outcomes
Most veterinarians are not strangers to adverse outcomes in treatments. The failed treatment is only half of the whole stressful saga; the other half is how to explain the failed treatment to your client.
Article 413: You Can Count On Us!
One Sunday morning, Dr A was consulted by a breeder client who had three English Bulldog bitches all whelping at the same time. The first bitch underwent a Caesarean section without any complications; two healthy puppies were delivered.
Article 412: Two at a Time!
Dr A had been in practice for over 30 years. She had graduated during the time when vocal fold resection was still taught as part of the Veterinary College surgery curriculum.
Article 411: What An Itch!
Mrs X owned a small breed dog who had been treated for various minor ailments throughout his life, including eczemas, pyodermas and flea allergies.
Article 410: A Difference of Opinion? The Responsibility is Yours!
Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you disagree with a colleague about medical treatments or surgery? If you have been in practice even for a short period of time, it is likely that you have already had a friendly discussion or perhaps even a heated debate with another veterinarian.
Article 409: Blackmailing the Vet!
It is not unusual for a VDA member to contact us for help when a client blackmails them.
Article 408: Now “‘ear’s” a problem!
Mrs X’s large breed dog had been involved in an altercation with the neighbour’s dog which had left him with a torn ear.
Article 407: The Case with No Merit
Members need to be aware of how quickly issues can turn into problems and how quickly you could find a civil claim for damages being made against you.
Article 406: Totally exhausted!
Mrs X had been out on a run with her dog when it collapsed. She rushed the dog to the nearest veterinary facility.
Article 405: The MRI that Ended the Road
A human medical practitioner was the owner of a 12 year old diabetic Fox Terrier. One Friday afternoon, the little dog suddenly became lame on the entire right hand side of her body – including both front and hind limbs and the right side of her face.
Article 404: Pet Owners do NOT have a Right to Your Clinical Records!
The VDA still receives regular queries regarding handing over of clinical notes and records.
We would like to advise our members: Don’t do it!
Article 403: IV fluids - Necessity or Optional?
Dr A de-sexed Mrs X’s cat and placed it on intravenous fluids. The cat’s recovery was much slower than had been expected and unfortunately it passed away that night.
Article 402: Breathing Battles
Dr A was presented with a healthy two year-old bulldog bitch that Mr X had purchased with the intention of showing and breeding her.
Article 401: The Risks Involved in Making Apologies
The real problem with giving an apology is that there is always a risk that it might come back to bite you. Many pet owners will view your apology as a form of admitting liability.
Article 400: Wound Woes
Dr A was in the process of closing up his practice one Sunday evening when Mrs B arrived with her neighbor’s dog. The dog had been mauled by its mate and the neighbour (owner of the two dogs) was away on holiday.
Article 399: Give Them One Finger, And They Will Take The Whole Hand
For the past three years Dr A had been taking care of Mrs X’s cat, treating it quite often for accidents and fight wounds.
Article 398: Admitting Liability – Contact the VDA Before You Do!
No insurer will allow an insured to admit liability and still provide cover for them. And even if you are not insured, if you are a VDA member, remember that you need not be alone in handling the stresses of veterinary practice - the VDA is here to assist you.
Article 397: Prescribing Human Medication for Animals
Dr A contacted the VDA with a question regarding veterinarians providing prescriptions for clients who wish to obtain human equivalent medications for their pets.
Article 396: How to Really Support yourself as a Veterinary Practitioner
It seems like some veterinarians are confused about VDA membership vs Guild and other insurers. It is easy to get confused when comparing professional covers and it is easy to lose sight of the benefits of professional protection vs mere commercial insurance cover.
Article 395: Beware the Aggressive Client
Dr A contacted the VDA for advice after a very traumatic physical attack that took place a couple of days prior. This is the second physical attack by an animal owner on a veterinarian in the past couple of months.
Article 394: With the Help of a Specialist
There comes a time when every veterinarian will have to deal with being asked to give a second opinion on the treatment of an animal – and in doing so, will come across what s/he believes to be evidence of unprofessional, negligent or careless work from the first veterinarian.
Article 393: Vaccinations - Your Clients’ Responsibility
Article 392: Keep Clients Informed, Stay Protected!
In a world filled with commands and demands, the veterinary profession has not been left out. Clients demand complete cures from the ailments their pets suffer on the first consultation.
Article 391: Dealing with Pet Insurers
Though this article is not intended for our VDA-America, VDA-Canada and VDA-Asia members, many of the remarks contained herein relate to common-law rights and the article is consequently still a worth-while read for background information.
Article 390: Dispensing Dilemmas
In order to ethically and legally prescribe and dispense medicine for an animal, a veterinarian is obliged to fully examine the animal and determine the appropriateness of the medication.
Article 389: Handing Over
The VDA often receives calls for requests on advice when a client moves from one veterinary practice to another. More often it is the client who requests a copy of the clinical notes, but sometimes the new veterinary practice will request the clinical records of the patient from the previous veterinary practice.
Article 388: Homeopathy in the Spotlight
Last week, vetsurgeon.org published an article regarding the launch of two new campaigns which are calling on the veterinary profession to unite against the practice of veterinary homeopathy.
Article 387: Shades of Gray
Dr A ran a very successful practice, employing three other veterinarians. The practice had become very popular as it pampered its clients and it would not be unusual for clients to have the veterinarians’ cell phone numbers and for the veterinarians to attend to some of the clients after hours – even though it was not an after-hours clinic.
Article 386: Suicidal Feelings
Veterinarians who find themselves under severe stress sometimes experience suicidal thoughts and, unfortunately, some veterinarians have followed through, leaving behind shocked families, friends and co-workers.
Article 385: Discussing Ex Gratia Settlements
“Ex gratia” means “by favour” and refers to a voluntary payment without acknowledging liability. An ex gratia payment is used where the giver recognizes that they may have been negligent and offers the offended party a monetary settlement that prevents a lengthy and expensive court battle.
Article 384: Hendra- The virus that keeps on giving
Currently in Queensland, Australia, three veterinarians are being prosecuted under the Workplace Health and Safety Act,
Article 383: Veterinary Telemedicine
In keeping up with trends and as websites and cellphone applications flourish and boom, the veterinary profession – not wanting to be left behind – wants to know if telemedicine is legal and a viable method of practising veterinary medicine.
Article 382: Sort out Your Stress Levels
As we begin to enter the “silly season” and the end of the year rolls in, you can count on an increase in demand for after-hour services. There will also be an increase in crazy clients who will push your tolerance and patience to the limit - and beyond.
Article 381: Digital and Remote Medicine on the Rise
One of the new areas of development in the veterinary world (as it is in the human world) is digital medicine, and the use of computers and communication software and recordings for remote consultations that digital technology now makes available.
Article 380: Who's The Boss
Mrs X had a 6 year-old female Doberman that had been losing weight while eating ravenously. She had started to show signs of polydipsia and polyuria.
Article 379: Dwindling Visits
Why do some owners abandon their pets despite having seemingly cared enough about them to take them for treatment at a veterinary facility initially?
Article 378: Cheap Cuts
Mr and Mrs X live in a different town to that in which Dr A’s practice is situated. However they took their dog to Dr A for surgical castration, since they had found out that Dr A offered a low-cost operation.
Article 374: Medication for Humans does not have a Place in Animal Welfare Work!
Dr A has been working at a privately-run welfare organization for some time. He opened an account at a wholesaler for drug supplies that were required to treat the animals at the welfare’s clinic.
Article 373: All for nothing!
Mrs X’s elderly dog was on chronic medication and had been treated by Dr A for quite a few years. As a result of this, Dr A had developed somewhat of a friendship with Mr and Mrs X.
Article 372: Missing ashes - a matter of contractual law
After Mrs X’s dog was euthanized, Mrs X asked Dr A’s veterinary practice to have her dog’s body cremated and the ashes returned to her.
Mr X took a dog who was severely malnourished, dehydrated, had an injured eye, fractured teeth, mammary tumors, needed spaying and was infested with fleas to Dr A for treatment. Mr X told Dr A that the dog was a stray – but as you will read, it was later discovered that the dog belonged to Mr X’s neighbor.
Dr A felt pressurized by Mr X, (who is a high-powered business man) and allowed himself to be persuaded into quoting a minuscule amount for the treatment of the dog, on the basis that it was a stray and that Mr X was going to be kind enough to give the poor dog a loving home. Mr X paid less than a quarter of the amount quoted as a deposit.
Dr A received a nasty shock when Mr X’s neighbor phoned Dr A and demanded his dog back, while Mr X phoned and demanded his deposit back because the owner had now appeared and ought to take responsibility for his dog.
The VDA recommended to Dr A that his best course of action would be:
1. To deal directly with Mr X because Mr X was the person with whom he had contracted.
2. To let Mr X and his neighbour settle their dispute of ownership and responsibility for the bill without involving Dr A in any way.
3. To take a 100% deposit in all future transactions. This simple step can eliminate more than half the grievances. Generally, “charitable” people as well as many pet owners will promise the earth and say and do whatever it takes when presenting an animal for treatment, but will look for any excuse not to pay their bill after the work is done and they have a healthy animal again.
4. To quote properly and fairly for your expertise and time – not to quote based on the value of the animal. Veterinarians can only stay in practice and provide a decent standard of care if pet owners pay a reasonable fee. Veterinarians are not legally obliged to treat an animal for next to nothing. If the owner does not have the funds, they can be referred to a welfare organisation.
We assisted Dr A in explaining to Mr X why he was bound to pay by his original contract for treatment and why Mr X should resolve his dispute with his neighbor without Dr Dr A’s involvement. Mr X saw the light and complied. In summary, Dr A found that it was in his best interest to adhere to the terms of his contract with the original client while following other best practice protocols that would ensure not only a better defence for him if challenged, but also more money in his pocket than might otherwise have been the case.
What is in your best interest is more often than not also the legally correct manner in which a veterinarian should practice. As a professional, your best interest should be to safe-guard your reputation. The VDA and You are the only people who have your best interest at heart. Take into consideration that, even though veterinary statutory boards are meant to uphold minimum professional standards, they also have the power to destroy your professional reputation and take away your license to practice and earn a living.
When you use the consent forms provided and developed by the VDA, you will be complying with the terms of VDA membership as well as with the insurance policy (in some countries). You will also be equipping yourself with the strongest defence available should you find yourself at the end of a complaint to the Board.