State Board vs. Marc Katz, DVM -- Case Findings

Vet Board Watch

Keeping Your Pet Safe

Breaking News and Views!!

 

Are Ohio's Pets in Danger as Ohio Vet Board Relaxes Rules on Supervision of Unlicensed Staff?
December 2007:  The Ohio Veterinary Board revised its rules pertaining to what supervision is required when unlicensed "animal aides" are performing medical procedures -- and these changes may endanger your pets!

Prior to the rule change, unlicensed aides, when performing medical procedures (like administering dangerous drugs, surgical preparation, inserting and monitoring IVs, etc.) could only do so under "DIRECT" supervision -- meaning that a veterinarian had to be on the premises and within sight and earshot of the unlicensed staff member performing the tasks.

The Ohio Veterinary Board changed this rule so that "Direct" supervision is no longer required for all tasks listed except drawing blood.  Now, only general "supervision" is required -- which doesn't mean the vet or licensed technician must be on the premises, but instead, allows the unlicensed aide to perform these duties as long as the veterinarian or registered veterinary technician is "readily available to communicate" with them -- which could mean by phone. 

In other words, an "unlicensed aide" can do anything to your pet other than give controlled substances, administer anesthesia, or draw blood so long as some registered vet tech is available offsite by cell phone? 

Is that "supervision" at all?  

What kind of dangers do unlicensed aides pose to your pets? 

Veterinarian John Robb explained in his Press Release, "Veterinarian Speaks Out Against Unlicensed Technicians."  (
http://www.protectthepets.com/news/), saying: "I have witnessed first hand horrific examples of what happens to people's cherished pets at the hands of improperly trained veterinary techs. Soap solution was accidentally placed in the eyes of pets scheduled for surgery, resulting in the sloughing of the surface layers of their corneas. Or urine being mistaken for a drug and being injected into the intravenous line of a pet."  (http://www.vetlocator.com/newsarticles/vetspeaks.php)

But instead of taking steps to make things safer for Ohio's pets, the Ohio Vet Board is loosening rules and regulations, and relaxing requirements on who can do what to your pets under what circumstances.  This is bound to lead to more injured, or even dead, pets. 

Rule change:
http://www.registerofohio.state.oh.us/pdfs/4741/0/1/4741-1-14_PH_FF_A_RU_20071217_0923.pdf


Is the Maryland Veterinary Board's December Press Release a Lesson in "How to Lie with Statistics?"
On December 12, the Maryland Department of Agriculture issued a press release announcing disciplinary actions of the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.  The press release said:

"In 2007, the Board investigated 77 complaints, filed 20 formal disciplinary actions, and issued 26 letters of advice or admonishment."


Hmmm.  OK, we don't really think much of the informal letters of advice or admonishment, since they never become public record and don't constitute "formal action."  

Yet, of the actions described in the press release itself, 4 out of 5 (80%) were clearly actions taken in response to consumer complaints about patient care.
 
This ratio is in stark and telling contrast to an analysis of disciplinary actions taken by the Maryland Veterinary Board during the period June 1, 2006 through March 29, 2007.  The Toonces Project filed a public records request for, and received, records of all disciplinary actions taken by the Board during that time period.  Of the 16 disciplinary actions taken by the Board during this period, only four (25%) were in response to consumer complaints related to patient care.  (Of the remaining 12, 11 were related to lack of timely license renewal, and one was related to findings based on inspection). 

Is the Maryland Veterinary Board's recent press release designed to create an inflated and false impression about the Board's disciplinary history in response to consumer complaints?????

If the records from June 2006 - March 29 2007 are representative, and only 25% of the disciplinary actions taken by the Board are in response to consumer complaints about patient care . . . 

And if this ratio holds true for the 20 formal disciplinary actions the Board says it has taken in 2007 . . .

Then that would mean that an estimated 5 of those 20 disciplinary actions would be in response to consumer complaints about patient care . . .

And if the Board investigated 77 consumer complaints about patient care in 2007, but took action on an estimated 5 . . .

Then that would mean that a consumer complaint has a 7% chance of resulting in a formal disciplinary action (just do the math:  5 over 77). 

Pretty lousy enforcement, huh?  So what's this impression the Board is trying to create by issuing a press release in which 4 out of 5 actions taken by the Board are based on consumer complaints about patient care?   

For the sake of fairness, we have included all those "lapsed license" violations on our Maryland's Disciplined Vets Page too -- in spite of the fact that the Board seems to be "padding" its disciplinary actions with "lapsed license" violations in lieu of taking action on consumer complaints. 

Thus, our Maryland Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners gets to "lie with statistics," like all the State Veterinary Boards seem to want to do. 




New Veterinary Consumer Site Launched: Texas Vet Board Watch
In Texas, grieving consumers who believe their pets have been injured or killed by veterinary malpractice have a  92% chance of having their complaints dismissed without action.  This abysmal record of NON-enforcement by the Texas Veterinary Board has gotten prime-time news attention from Dallas-area CBS affiliate KTVT. 

Now, veterinary consumer Greg Munson has launched a website to monitor the activities of the Texas Veterinary Board.  This site, "Texas Vet Board Watch," will report on the activities of a regulatory body which many grieving owners say has failed to live up to its mission.

For more information, see our home page, or visit 
http://texasvetboardwatch.110mb.com/.  
 


 Who Is the State Board of Oregon Protecting -- Pets or Vets? . . . Oh, Wait A Minute, This Guy Wasn't Even A Licensed Oregon Vet!

Watch this space for an upcoming petition campaign to express outrage at the Oregon Board's October 2005 decision, as described in their minutes.

The October minutes read:

"The Board considered case 05-0012, involving Lee Anderson, an individual not licensed to practice veterinary medicine who, in the course of attempting to castrate four horses and ponies, severed the penises of two. One of the animals was eventually euthanized. The Boardís investigator met with the individual and his attorney, who agreed that the action was in violation of the Veterinary Practice Act and agreed to enter into a stipulated agreement. Dr. Betts moved to fine Mr. Anderson $5,000 per violation ($20,000), waive the fines for the animals that survived, and reduce the fine to $500 in consideration of Mr. Andersonís admission, cooperation and agreement to cease practicing without a license. Dr. DeWees seconded, and the Board approved the motion. (Note: As Mr. Anderson is neither an applicant nor a licensee, this case is not subject to the confidentiality provisions of ORS 192.660.)" (To view these minutes, go to http://www.oregon.gov/OVMEB/pdfs/oct05.pdf.

What???? This guy -- unlicensed -- chops off the penises of 2 horses through 4 botched catstrations, one dies as a result, and the Vet Board reduces the fines to $500?

According to the charter of the Board, its ". . . mission is to protect animal health and welfare, public health, and consumers of veterinary services." Yet -- as with State Boards across the country, it seems much more sympathetic to the law breakers and killers than their victims. This guy isn't even a licensed vet and they are letting him off with a fine that can't begin to represent the magnitude of the damage he has done. Imagine the pain and suffering of the horses who came under his butchering hands -- not to mention the economic loss of their "owners."

The remainder of the minutes for October -- while providing little detail since complaints against licensees are not public -- show a suspiciously disturbing pattern:

"The Board made the following decisions in public session:
Case 05-0006óDr. DeWees moved, Ms. Galindo seconded, and the Board voted by unanimously by all present to find no violation of the Veterinary Practice Act.
Case 05-0004óDr. DeWees moved, Dr. Betts seconded, and the Board voted unanimously by all present to find no violation of the Veterinary Practice Act.
Case 05-0019óDr. Betts moved, Ms. Galindo seconded, Dr. Otteman-Brant abstained from discussion and vote, and the Board voted by majority to impose a fine of $100 for violation of ORS 686.020 (practicing veterinary medicine without a license).
Case 05-0020óDr. DeWees moved, Mr. Liskey seconded, and the Board voted unanimously by all present to find no violation of the Veterinary Practice Act.
Case 04-0006óDr. DeWees moved, Dr. Betts seconded, and the Board voted unanimously by all present to find no violation of the Veterinary Practice Act."

A $100 fine for practising veterinary medicine without a license????

One can only wonder what the facts were in the "dismissed" complaints, but a disturbing pattern emerges.


 

2005 Virginia Board Statistics: 35 out of 136 Complaints (26%) Result in Discipline.

Why so low, Virginia? Are Virginia's residents filing tons of frivolous complaints, or are valid complaints being set aside? See www.dhp.state.va.us/vet/newsletters/Spring-2006.doc for the Board's newsletter in which this statistic appeared.