If you hold a California veterinarian license and are facing an investigation or statement of issues against your license and professional record, it is in your best interests to act quickly to defend yourself. Many alleged violations can result in license revocation or suspension by the California Department of Consumer Affairs' Veterinary Medical Board. And even a citation is worth fighting since it becomes a public record, accessible to potential clients and future employers.
At California License Attorney, we have intricate knowledge of the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act, Business & Professions Code, and all other relevant California laws and regulations pertaining to your veterinary license. We also have deep experience in handling all aspects and all stages of veterinary license defense, regardless of what particular allegations you are facing.
Our team of experienced license defense lawyers is standing by 24/7 ready to take your call and give you a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us at 888-959-0068, and we will be happy to help you protect your license and your livelihood.
The Compassionate Calling of a Veterinarian
As a professional veterinarian, you feel called to be a compassionate help to ailing animals of all kinds. You also understand how important animals can become in the lives of human beings. Pets become veritable friends and "members of the family" in some homes, while also guarding the premises, ridding the home of disease-spreading rodents, or acting as a "seeing eye dog" in the case of the visually impaired.
Additionally, you may well see patients from farms, zoos, or even occasionally from the wild.
Your duties include protecting pets, families, and the public by administering preventative vaccinations, treating common animal illnesses, and performing advanced surgeries. In some cases, veterinarians even inspect livestock or work as food safety experts for the government.
To get where you are today, it took a great deal of time, effort, and expense. The medical knowledge and practical experience required to become a licensed California vet are high marks to attain to. Yet, even a single mistake or a disgruntled client with unreasonable or unrealistic expectations, can put your license in jeopardy.
The Mission of the California Veterinary Medical Board
The California Veterinary Medical Board exists for the sake of protecting animals and their owners from suffering the consequences of unsafe or sub-standard veterinary care.
They accomplish this, first of all, by restricting licensing from any they deem unqualified, for a variety of reasons. Next, they establish high standards for the industry, which apply to both veterinarians and veterinary technicians. These regulations concern the cleanliness level of the veterinary clinic as well as the safe administration of treatment.
The board takes in complaints on a regular basis from all over the state. Most of these will turn out to be "unsubstantiated" and simply be dropped. Others will be deemed to have "insufficient evidence" on which to proceed, after only a short look is given to them.
However, when a complaint is very serious, the board is obligated to investigate it. And even minor complaints can lead to disciplinary action if the board feels they have enough evidence.
Examples of the kinds of allegations that veterinarians sometimes face include:
- Actual harm being done to an animal or a human being.
- Drug/alcohol abuse, especially if committed while treating an animal.
- Improper billing practices.
- Use of unqualified, unlicensed assistants.
- Having past criminal convictions that "substantially" relate to one's duties as a veterinarian.
- Health code violations.
- Gross negligence, ordinary negligence, or incompetence in the performance of one's duties.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- Improper use of anesthesia.
- Falsifying records or not keeping adequate records.
- Insurance fraud.
- Obtaining a veterinary license by fraud.
- Exceeding the limits of your license and expertise.
- Already being under discipline by another California agency or by the veterinary licensing board of another U.S. state.
The board has a number of possible disciplinary options at its disposal. The lowest forms of discipline would be a citation or a letter of reprimand. The two both create a public record of the violation, but a citation may also carry a heavy fine with it.
In more extreme cases, the board may seek a license suspension or revocation. A suspension prevents you from practicing for a specific period of time, whereas, a revocation does so indefinitely.
Many times, we can obtain a stay of revocation with probation. This is a serious form of discipline, but it is less severe than a revocation since it allows you to continue your practice, albeit with certain restrictions and requirements being imposed.
From Complaint to Final Decision
At California License Attorney, we are familiar with every step of the administrative process that is initiated by a complaint being filed against a veterinarian or veterinary technician with the California Veterinary Medical Board. We know every possible scenario and what are the best strategies in each situation because we have successfully defended numerous California veterinarian licenses in the past.
If a complaint is received against you by the board, it is possible it will be dismissed as lacking merit. But if you receive a notice of investigation, you need to take the complaint seriously since it could lead to professional discipline.
For smaller matters, a citation and fine, or public or private reprimand may be issued. If the fine is high or if the matter is made public, these actions are worth fighting (and we know how to get them reversed or reduced if at all possible).
In some cases, the board may feel the complaint has some merit but close the case because the matter is not in their jurisdiction or because insufficient evidence exists. You might even be requested to appear for a "review," but do not attend unless you first speak to a good license defense lawyer so you will not incriminate yourself. And for the same reason, do not speak to a board investigator without first speaking to us.
If you are served an interim suspension, we will fight that immediately. You cannot afford to cease your practice for months or years on end as the investigation continues.
For complaints the board feels are merited and well evidenced, a formal accusation will be filed, along with a statement of issues. We will examine the statement of issues and take the opportunity at that juncture to work for a dismissal or a favorable stipulated settlement.
If the case moves on to the administrative hearing, we will come thoroughly prepared to offer exculpatory and/or mitigating evidence in your favor. We will challenge all evidence, testimony, and arguments of the prosecution. If appropriate, however, we will put our well seasoned negotiation skills to work and fight to win you a reduced form of discipline that lets you keep your license.
The administrative law judge (ALJ) overseeing the hearing will use the official disciplinary guidelines of the Veterinary Medical Board in reaching a decision. But mitigating or aggravating evidence can be used as a basis of adjusting the discipline, if any, from the standard. Such adjustments must be justified, however, to the board (which will make the final decision).
At California License Attorney, we can often get the charges against you dismissed before or at the hearing. But in other cases, we can fight for a ruling closer to the minimum rather than the maximum.
The maximum for having a criminal conviction substantially related to your practice, for example, is license revocation with a $5,000 fine. But the minimum is a stayed revocation with probation for 2 years and only a $2,000 fine. Similar rules exist for many other violations. One of the most serious violations, cruelty to animals, ordinarily results in revocation of your license — but even here, it is possible to avoid revocation with enough mitigating evidence of the right kind.
In cases where actual harm was inflicted on an animal or person, the board tends toward the maximums; but evidence of rehabilitation on the offender's part, mitigating circumstances, full restitution, and other factors can reduce the discipline rendered if presented effectively by a skilled license defense lawyer.
Finally, even if your license has already been revoked or if your license application has been denied, we know how to work through the paperwork and legal processes to get your license approved or reinstated. Having a good lawyer on your side will greatly improve your chances of reinstatement, just as it will of keeping your license to begin with.
Contact Us Today for Help
At California License Attorney, we understand how to win the best possible outcome to all manner of California veterinarian license defense cases. We have a long track record of getting complaints and formal allegations dismissed and of successfully negotiating for a lesser form of disciplinary action.
Contact us anytime 24/7/365 at 888-959-0068, and we will give you a free consultation and waste no time in getting started on your case.