Attorneys for Veterinarians
Becoming a licensed veterinarian takes a lot of hard work, determination and ongoing vigilance. They not only have to be vigilant about maintaining compliance with the various local, state and federal laws and regulations, but they must also be extremely attentive with prescription drugs and handling pet owner concerns. Failure to maintain a professional practice aligned with standards and regulations can result in any number of legal issues that threaten your livelihood, reputation and entire career.
With more than 10 years in the legal healthcare field, the veterinarian attorneys at Joseph Potashnik & Associates represent, defend and provide counsel to licensed veterinarians who find themselves needing legal assistance. Cases have ranged from healthcare lawsuits to criminal matters, from contract issues with partners to licensing issues with veterinary state boards.
Veterinary Legal Problems
Licensed veterinarians can end up with legal problems stemming from a wide range of scenarios, whether related to their practice, their patients or their colleagues and staff. Some of the more common issues include:
- Failure to maintain adequate employment records
- Failure to properly manage agitated or dissatisfied clients, which often leads to complaints being filed
- Failure to keep clients properly informed during deteriorating cases, which can result in a healthcare lawsuit
- Signing a non-compete agreement without intending to uphold it
- Practicing veterinary medicine without adequate liability protection of a corporation or LLC
- Failure to properly train staff or secure facilities to avoid animal escape or injury
- Inadequate management or supervision of clinic inventory and operations, which can bring on facility violations that lead to sanctions
- Entering into a buy-in or partnership without proper planning and documentation
The legal team at Joseph Potashnik & Associates can help with all of the above, and more.
Legal Counsel for Veterinarians
Veterinarians invest much effort, time and money in training and development, making it particularly harrowing when their careers are suddenly put in jeopardy. This can happen rather quickly, with a single pet owner who unfairly accuses you of not living up to the high standards and expectations of the profession. This scenario has become more commonplace as Americans are increasingly viewing and treating their pets as family members to which they become deeply attached.
Any pet owner can accuse any veterinarian of any number of violations at any given time. When this occurs, veterinarians may become the target of an investigation by the state board that oversees veterinary medicine, or worse. If a violation is found, disciplinary action may follow. Some of the most common grounds for disciplinary actions against veterinarians and registered veterinarian technicians include:
- Unprofessional conduct, which can include everything from fraud and negligence to failure to include required information on the label of a prescription
- Abuse of prescription drugs or alcohol
- Use of illegal narcotics or other illegal substances
- Drug-related transgressions
- Gross immorality, gross negligence or incompetence
- Falsifying records
- Conviction of a crime related to the veterinarian practice
- Obtaining a professional license as a veterinarian or registered veterinarian technician by misrepresentation, fraud or error
When the state board receives a complaint against a veterinarian or RVT, the compliant is reviewed, examined and processed. Certain complaints may be closed rather quickly if they are not within the board’s jurisdiction or are not grounds for disciplinary action. Personality conflicts are one example of a complaint that generally does not merit disciplinary action. Complaints may also be closed if the board determines the accusations are unsubstantiated.
Complaints Against Veterinarians
If, however, the board concludes the accusations are valid, there are a number of options for further actions it can take if taking action is warranted. These options include:
- Closing the complaint, even after determining the compliant has merit
- Handling the matter at the board level by issuing a fine, private reprimand, citation or other penalty
- Referring the matter to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution
When cases are referred to the attorney general, veterinarians can generally expect penalties related to licensure. The attorney general typically seeks to deny a license if you are applying for one, or revoke or suspend a license if you already hold one. In addition to license revocation or suspension, the attorney general may impose any number of terms and conditions to any probationary license issued.
As a licensed veterinarian, it’s imperative to retain an experienced and qualified attorney to present a strong defense designed to minimize disciplinary action. You also want to speak with a lawyer before you respond to any inquiries or discuss your case with anyone else. This includes law enforcement, investigators, the attorney general’s office or other agencies affiliated with the prosecution.
Even if you feel you have nothing to hide, information you disclose can be used against you to build a case. The wisest move before responding to any type of inquiry, or attempting to handle any legal issue on your own, is to contact the veterinarian lawyers at Joseph Potashnik & Associates. Contact our office to schedule a consultation today.