Login using your username and password to continue reading
Article 542: No sees and no shows
Mrs X’s cat was presented showing signs of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. At the outset Mrs X was warned that urinary blockages can occur, that they are very serious; and can lead to permanent organ damage and death. On this occasion the cat was treated medically and responded well.
Article 541: Beware Pet Medical Aids
Dr A has approached the VDA with a complaint regarding pet medical aids. It appears that the policies of some of these companies are creating a problematic relationship between clients and their vets more and more often these days.
Article 540: Social media overshare?
Online presence is a concern in the business world today and the big question is always: how much should professional people share with members of the public? Recently a VDA member enquired about sharing veterinary treatment videos on social media and in the public domain.
Article 539: Ivermectin Insanity
Ivermectin, the medication that is currently being debated in the heat of Covid madness, is receiving both positive and negative reviews. The roller coaster journey has peaked in the latest news with the drug now approved for compassionate and controlled access as a Covid treatment in South Africa, as announced by the CEO of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.
Article 538: A Spanner in the Works
It is very frustrating, not to mention distressing and disappointing, when a procedure does not go as planned. In this case, Dr A was faced with a euthanasia procedure that went awry, and then had to contend with an opinionated “owner” who happened to be a veterinary nurse!
Article 537: When the helper needs help
The stigma surrounding mental illness is known to influence healthcare professionals seeking out mental health services. This stigma is particularly problematic for those that work in professions in which their identity is firmly rooted as “the helper”. Helpers seek to assist others who are seeking help and are less likely to seek out professional mental health services.
Article 536: Pet Insurance Advice
Offering pet insurance advice and opinions to pet owners could land you in a snake pit of financial and legal woes. The VDA recommends that you do not offer advice on insurance products to pet owners!
Article 535: Second Opinions
Asking for a second professional opinion has become a norm in a society where people tailor answers to suit their agendas. Just as we have our favorite GP so, too, clients have their favorite vet - and when our favorite GP gives us results we believe ‘simply can’t be true’ or when there is a miscommunication resulting in a loss of trust, the relationship breaks down.
Article 534: Post Covid Psychological Crisis
The sudden impact of COVID-19 on the veterinary profession has had far-reaching effects with most practices adopting a new normal to ensure patients continue to receive essential veterinary care while staff and clients are protected.
Article 533: Moral Injury
Research into mental health in the veterinary profession has recently unearthed the fact that there are connections between veterinarians’ mental health and the damage caused by Moral Injury.
Article 532: Veterinarian Suicide Crisis
Recently there was an episode of Insight on ABC in Australia regarding issues of mental health, stress, and suicide in the veterinary profession, which is receiving great feedback from the general public (https://www.sbs.com.au/news/insight/tvepisode/veterinary-care). This enlightening snippet, coupled with numerous worrying news headlines about the current worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, the tanking economy, and other related stresses, has prompted the VDA to once again explore the data regarding suicide in veterinarians.
Article 531: Don't get caught with your pants down
Some practice owners make the error of employing assistant veterinarians, locums and relief veterinarians as well as nurses and techs without making it conditional that they are fully paid-up VDA members in good standing before they set foot in the practice.
Article 530: Covid 19 - Dilemmas
With thousands already dead, the airports closed and the streets empty, Covid- 19 is proving to be an underestimated pandemic. Unfortunately no one is an exception to the rule in these unique times with every country being affected by the infected. The VDA is here to support members in any way that we can. With so much news circulating, please bear with us and read through the following.
Article 529: Dysfunctional Vets and Dysfunctional Boards
It is a very disturbing experience to have one’s employer (the person who should be your protector and mentor) turn against you. More so when your employer ‘throws you under the bus’ by lying under oath to the veterinary board, in order to save themselves. It is even more distressing when you discover that the veterinary board is so dysfunctional that it cannot even get the most basic part of the disciplinary process right.
Article 528: Latest Developments Regarding Telemedicine
At this point, this is quite an important development since we have not had a set pronouncement from any other Board (that we are aware of). Many Boards will look to this ruling for guidance as to their own decisions regarding Telemedicine Regulations.
Article 527: Ivermectin Toxicity - A Cautionary Tale
It is practice policy in Dr A’s practice to deworm pregnant bitches prior to whelping. Dr A is experienced in breeding and is located in an area renowned for its resistant worm population. Dr A’s experience is that doramectin is an effective dewormer, and that the health benefits (in treating morbidity and in preventing mortality from verminosis) outweighs the risks of side-effects.
Article 526: Pet Abandonment
Pets being abandoned at a veterinary practice is a common problem. The veterinarian gets stuck with an animal at their practice, taking up space and resources, all the while not being paid. Presenting a pet for treatment and then refusing to pay is fraudulent and places veterinarians in an invidious and unenviable position, since they are naturally empathetic to the animal’s plight but still have to maintain a businesslike approach.
Article 525: Developing Coping Skills
This article is a follow on from the previous article “Mental health concern- when should we worry?” Veterinary medicine is an incredibly stressful occupation, where professional people have to face more than their fair share of traumatic events. With recent revelations of high suicide rates in veterinarians, we need to address possible preventative methods.
Article 524: Mental Health Concern- When should we worry?
Nowadays, mental health issues are being addressed more tenaciously. The VDA has been focussed on mental health in veterinarians, as well as in the mental health of veterinary clients, for many years, long before this became a “trend”. We, as veterinarians, need to take special heed, since we are more at risk than most other professions, of suffering mental health concerns. Poor mental health is closely associated with the stresses of professional life, such as excessive work hours, poor work-life balance and student/other debt. Practice owners and chief veterinarians need to look out, not only for themselves, but for staff members as well.
Article 523: Vets Treating Stolen Property
Dr A, a VDA member and practitioner in a small town, contacted the VDA for advice and guidance regarding a sticky situation in which one of her clients, Mrs X – acting as the local rescue group - had “saved” an injured dog by taking it to Dr A. Dr A was uncertain as to who was responsible for the dog and its well-being and who should act for it.
Article 522: Resilience: Finding Your Confidence as a Vet
Resilience has recently become a buzzword in many areas, including veterinary practice. Finding the strength to keep going during trials and tribulations is a trait that some people seem to ooze, whilst others continually struggle to overcome setbacks.
Article 521: Telemedicine: Are Virtual Vets really the future?
Many veterinarians are hesitant to give veterinary advice over the phone, never mind utilizing more modern techniques such as Skype to give a consultation. The hesitations are understandable but the veterinary world needs to keep up, so where do we draw the line with telemedicine?
Article 520: Euthanasia Gone Wrong - Guest Article By Dr A
Dr A has written an article for the VDA on a topic that she feels very strongly about. She wishes to pass the message on to others. We agree: depression and suicide are always most important and should always be at the forefront of our thoughts when listening to those who are ‘having a tough day’.
Article 519: Every Click You Make, Every View You Take
Every click, every view and every sign-up on the internet is recorded somewhere. Depending on your view, this is either very creepy or fantastically interesting. There are many advantages and disadvantages of social media and the internet, for both individuals and businesses. The veterinary world is not exempt from this, specifically veterinarians being the subject of online abuse.
Article 518: 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 517: 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 516: 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 515: 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: Pet Bites Vet!
A recent dog bite has left more than just physical wounds for a VDA member. The trauma associated with an injury in the workplace, and specifically the trauma of an injury caused by an animal, can have detrimental effects on the mental well being of the affected person.
Article 512: 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 511: Comment On The 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 510: 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 509: A Gross Misapplication Of The Law Regarding Veterinary Discipline
This article illustrates the point that Veterinary Boards often have a poor and misguided understanding of how the law operates with regard to veterinary professional discipline. This case involves the South African Veterinary Council (the SAVC), but it happens regularly with most other veterinary boards around the world.
Article 508: 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. We all lie.
Article 507: 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 506: Mitigating The Risks of Sexual Harassment
How to Deal with Sexual Harassment in the Practice and Mitigating the Risk.
Article 505: 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?
Article 504: 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. South Africa is one of many countries throughout the world who have recently introduced an Act to control such breaches, entitled POPI, or the Protection of Personal Information Act.
Article 503: 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. Burnout by its nature is an insidious affliction and doesn't just happen suddenly.
Article 502: 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 501: Things You Should Learn About In Veterinary School - Part One
After seven or so years of veterinary school, many feel that they now know all they need to know in order to be a successful veterinarian. The VDA has identified some things that we believe should be taught at veterinary school, but aren’t, which would help the veterinary profession immensely in everyday practice as well as in their personal lives.
Article 500: What To Do When A Client Wants To Record Their Pets Examination
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. Veterinarians are starting to face the question from clients more frequently, whilst some veterinarians are interacting with clients who will be recording without asking permission, and without the knowledge of the veterinarian or their lay-staff.
Article 499: 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. This is not an isolated case, but one of a string of absurd persecutions being conducted by the SAVC.
Article 498: The Quandaries of Confidentiality...
Client confidentiality is a tricky subject that creates many quandaries for members.
Article 497: A Costly Mistake...
Dr A is a long-standing, loyal member of the VDA. He employed a new veterinarian at his practice, Dr B. Dr B was not a new graduate but an experienced veterinarian. Dr B had previously been a member of the VDA but for some reason (that defies logic!) he terminated his membership - yet continued to practice.
Article 496: "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 495: 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 494: 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. However, many veterinarians are not following this norm, and it is creating an atmosphere of mistrust - and even intimidation. Some veterinarians fail to extend the courtesy of a phone call to the first veterinarian altogether.
Article 493: 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 489: 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 488: 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 487: 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 486: Violence against Healthcare Workers around the World...
According to different sources and recent studies, the statistics are alarming!
Article 485: When things just 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 484: 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 483: 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 482: 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 481: Assertiveness - and a good dose of patience!
“Assertiveness is the ability to stand up for yourself and to say what you think and feel in a way that is respectful towards other people’s thoughts and feelings. Assertiveness is not being mean, but it isn’t necessarily being nice either.
Article 481: Assertiveness - and a good dose of patience!
“Assertiveness is the ability to stand up for yourself and to say what you think and feel in a way that is respectful towards other people’s thoughts and feelings. Assertiveness is not being mean, but it isn’t necessarily being nice either.
Article 480: Failing to refer
A recent court ruling in NSW, Australia, in which a general practitioner was found negligent for failing to refer his client to a specialist for treatment, serves as a warning not only to GPs but to veterinarians too.
Article 479: Supplementing Clinical Notes...
Clinical notes are not forensic documents. In other words, clinical notes were not intended to be used for legal purposes such as in court civil claims and disciplinary hearings. Forensic documents include reports and expert opinions – but not clinical notes.
Article 478: The Invisible Responsibilities...
What responsibilities does the law and ethics place on a veterinarian to police the ownership of dogs? Read on for an interesting tale of intrigue, a convoluted story line and at last, some rational thinking.
Article 477: 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 476: 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. If no specialist pathologist is available or the owner refuses to pay for this, then a colleague, rather than you, should perform the post mortem.
Article 475: 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 474: 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.
Article 473: Understanding the Concept of Professional Misconduct...
In a civil case, the primary claim for damages made by plaintiffs is usually for the market value of the animal that died. If the animal is still alive, the primary claim is for a reduction in market value caused by the Negligence of the defendant. There are usually also additional claims for expenditure related to the animal.
Article 472: Treating an Animal without Consent carries High Risk! And it is Unlawful...
An animal is regarded as property, therefore the animal owner must provide consent in order for a veterinarian to treat their “property”. Consent is a requirement of common law and of boards. And the only way to prove that you have the owner’s consent is to obtain a signature on the VDA approved “Informed Consent to Treatment Form”.
Article 471: 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 470: 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. Mrs X informed Dr A that she was a breeder of long standing, but nevertheless supplied only vague information about the bitch’s temperature, labour signs, oestrogen/progesterone treatments or tests, the possible mating dates and anticipated date of gestation.
Article 469: In Reponse 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 468: A Current SAVC Disciplinary Case...
What is the biggest single threat to a veterinarian’s right to practice veterinary medicine in South Africa? Answer: The SAVC.
Article 467: 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 466: 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 465: SWOT Analysis for You and Your Practice...
A SWOT Analysis is a way of evaluating the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that affect something. It can be used to provide a comprehensive insight into a business, its structure, management and operations. It also helps identify key competitors, services and products. SWOT analysis has been extended beyond companies to products, organizations, countries and industries over the past decade and are now being included in many professional business plans.
Article 464: 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. In fact, the lower the forum in the hierarchy of any legal system (and veterinary boards along with similar professional regulatory authorities, operate on the lowest rung of the legal ladder), the more strictly the rules of law should be applied and the less freedom and discretion the forum is allowed.
Article 463: Maslow’s Hierarchy in the Veterinary World...
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation" in Psychological Review.
Article 462: 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. They are programs that encrypt (scramble) your files in the background and then hold these files to ransom as they can't be unlocked without the appropriate key.
Article 461: 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 460: Brownie Points...
Veterinarians need to beware of making demeaning comments to their clients, regarding the treatment choices made by other veterinarians.
Article 459: Don't 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 458: Clients need boundaries!...
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 457: 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 456: A big no-no!...
It is hard to believe that in this litigious day and age, there are still veterinarians who are willing to dispense medication without first examining the animal, but alas, there are!
Article 455: "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 454: "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 453: Ordering human medicine...
Last month, www.VetSurgeon.org published an article in which the RCVS Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee had directed the Registrar to suspend Lois Hodgkinson RVN for ten months after she had ordered prescription drugs for her own use through the practice’s veterinary wholesale ordering system.
Article 452: The "one that got away"...
Dr A has two partners who are older than him and are not VDA members. However, Dr A believes very firmly in following the advice of the VDA and insists that all of his clients sign a VDA-approved Informed Consent to Treatment form, before any invasive, manipulative or hospital case he is responsible for is treated.
Article 451: Cyber Threats – What policies and procedures do you need to adopt in your veterinary practice?...
Regardless of business size, cyber threats pose a real threat to your livelihood and vets are not immune to these risks and issues. For many years, small business has felt that security through obscurity is a valid protection, but no longer!
Article 450: 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. There was a cut on his nose and sores on his ears - all of which must have occurred during his stay at the breeder’s premises.
Article 449: 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.
Article 448: Social media and You...
Businesstech.co.za has published an article regarding the Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill which will be entered into parliamentary discussion in the coming weeks in South Africa. The majority of the Bill appears to focus on criminalising the theft and interference of data, but it has also introduced new laws surrounding ‘malicious’ electronic communication.
Article 447: Path Reports - “Flogging a Dead Horse”...
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.
Article 446: 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.
Article 445: No quick fixes!...
Mrs X had a 6 year-old female dog who was losing weight - although eating ravenously - and had also started to show signs of polydipsia and polyuria.
Article 444: Take a full deposit!...
The VDA receives many calls from frustrated members who are left with large unpaid bills by dishonest clients.
Article 443: 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 442: Adopt a stray animal policy!...
Dr A was presented with a small dog by Mrs X who said that the dog was a stray. Mrs X was a regular client of the practice and owned a dog of the same breed.
Article 441: Defend your reputation!...
Dr A considered tick paralysis as a possible diagnosis and discussed this with the pet owner, Mr X, who said that the dog had not been treated with a tick prevention product. Dr A performed a thorough search and, after having found no ticks, suggested to Mr X that the dog required tick prevention medication as well as further searching for ticks to be performed by the owner at home.
Article 440: 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 439: 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 438: 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 437: Did the Owner Consent?...
Mrs X’s pony developed signs of colic in the morning, but she delayed in calling Dr A until 16h45. Mrs X’s first request was that Dr A dispense Finadyne in order for Mrs X to administer the medication.
Article 436: 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 435: 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 434: 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 433: 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 432: 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 431: What Veterinarians should know about litigation...
As a veterinarian, it’s less a matter of if you will get sued, and more a matter of when you will get sued.
Article 430: "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 429: 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 428: 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.
Article 427: 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 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.
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. The veterinarian must provide sufficient Information for the consenter to be able to make an informed consent; the veterinarian must take reasonable steps to ensure that the consenter Appreciates (understands) the information and implications of consent; and the consenter actually provides their 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: Learn to Say No!...
Veterinarians form part of the “helping professions”, and are always eager to assist their clients and ailing pets. When a client receives good service, it builds their confidence and brings in good business - and it makes everyone feel happy.
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.
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 of 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. And it is this aspect where matters often deteriorate, especially for the less experienced veterinarian.
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. Due to her excellent reputation and expertise, clients often traveled long distances to have her perform this procedure on their beloved pets.
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. This can be a very healthy and positive experience.
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. The following case history portrays how important it is that each case is judged on its own merits – as many have no merit at all.
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. Dr A proceeded to place the dog in a cold bath and administered cortisone. In a short time the dog had recovered but Dr A wanted to be sure that the recovery was complete and so arranged to keep him for further observation.
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: Are yours in order?
It is extremely important to keep good clinical records for a number of reasons. In particular, if there were to be a board complaint, not only would the clinical record reflect how thorough you were but also serve to jog your memory and avoid the stress of having to try and remember details of a case that should have been recorded at the time. Boards examine clinical records in meticulous detail.
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. In some situations an apology would actually be inappropriate.
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. VDA membership entitles you to our free telephone and email helpline. You should use our helpline immediately when an incident occurs that could lead to a claim. The VDA will spring into action!
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 AVMLA and other insurers in the USA. 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. Over the years veterinarians have been punched in the head and even shot at by animal owners. This article is a forewarning to members to be vigilant of situations that may spiral out of control.
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. On rare occasions, these ‘second opinion vets’ have been known to assist the client in reporting the first veterinarian to the veterinary board. If the veterinary board then chooses to investigate the case, they will no doubt turn to an expert in the field to clarify what went wrong.
Article 393: Vaccinations - Your Clients’ Responsibility...
At the end of last year, DVM360 published an article which we felt may be of interest to our members.
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. In eras past, the approach to medicine was more philosophical and pragmatic. It was accepted that even a minor illness might have side-effects, or even some sort of negative outcome.
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. This means that, when an owner asks a veterinarian to dispense medication for their animal without examining the animal, they are not only asking the veterinarian to break the law but also setting the veterinarian up to potentially harm their animal.
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. Below are two examples of these situations and how they should be dealt with.
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: Keep your colleagues close...
When a veterinarian requests a client to return their pet for follow-up treatments but the clients do not comply, it can unravel the entire treatment process and set the treatment up for failure.
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. We would like to remind our members that it is an important aspect of life to learn to manage your stress levels.
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. Her blood glucose was significantly raised with a glucosuria. Clearly, diabetes was the main differential diagnosis.
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.