Veterinary Law & Ethics

Perceived failures in communication, in efficacy of care, and in other facets of veterinary medical practice may lead clients to pursue legal recourse, potentially leading to serious repercussions for the veterinarian in question.  Scott Heiser, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, has commented that laws providing remedies when a pet has been harmed or mistreated by a veterinarian are in transition and dynamics are shifting as pet owners become a more powerful constituency. 

Owners dissatisfied with the veterinary care provided to their animals have several avenues of recourse, all of which can affect a veterinarian’s ability to practice clinical medicine.  An individual may pursue a legal claim for professional negligence or veterinary malpractice (i.e., a law suit).  In addition or alternatively, an individual may elect to submit a letter of complaint to the state’s veterinary medical board (VMB), potentially prompting investigation of the veterinarian’s conduct.  A third area of recourse available in some states is mediation. 

AVLS conducted extensive research to determine the numbers and sources of veterinary medical license disciplinary actions nationwide from 2005-2011. See the special report in “Trends in Veterinary Medical Board State Disciplinary Actions, 2005-2011” in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association. Some of the most common causes of these actions include professional negligence or malpractice, record keeping deficiencies, practicing without a license, and unprofessional conduct. Using this information to analyze trends and conduct case reviews we have developed a variety of trainings designed to address some of the most common causes for veterinary medical board action. AVLS will assist veterinary professionals minimize their risk of liability by focusing on areas that most often lead to a dissatisfied client. Contact us to learn more.