vetabusenetwork.com  is an independent consumer advocacy site and not associated with any state licensing board or regulatory agency in any way.

 

"The Board's first priority is to protect the public."

From "Compact With Texas," Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners

Texas

Start here...

Be sure the vet has a valid license to practice.

Two of our fave words: Public record.

States may vary. Check the procedures here.

 

Check your Texas vet's disciplinary record here at www.texasveterinaryrecords.com

FAQs for Texas Residents

What if my vet isn't on the list? Does that mean he's never had a complaint against him?

Unfortunately, no. It only means he/she was not disciplined by the board. Texas does not disclose any previous or open complaints or investigations on veterinarians if they did not result in disciplinary action, so even if a vet does not show up on this list, it does NOT mean that he has never been filed on or under investigation. The board could have a record of complaints a mile long on a particular vet, and the public will never know. Other states allow residents to see a complete list of names of vets who have been filed on, but not Texas. Much still needs to be done in this area to guarantee protection of our animal companions. 

What is the state board?

The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is made up of six veterinarians and three public members. They generally serve six year terms and are appointed by the governor.

Is my complaint evaluated by the actual board described above?

No. Up until 2006 complaints were evaluated by only ONE VET on the actual board. The decision was made by ONLY ONE VET, NOT THE ACTUAL BOARD. Currently, there are TWO reviewing vets (thanks to the changes brought about by the Sunset Commission that were incorporated into HB1131 in 2005), but the original complaint still does not go to the full board. If a complaint is dismissed after the two reviewing vets evaluate it along with the response received by the veterinarian, the complainant receives a letter saying the complaint has been dismissed. If the two reviewing vets agree that the case needs to be investigated further, or the vet's response was not sufficiently satisfactory  it may go to informal conference to determine if a violation occurred. If the two vets disagree on whether or not a violation has occurred, it automatically goes to conference. This prevents ONLY ONE VET from being the unilateral decisionmaker, as was previously the case before the 2004 Sunset commission. 

Can I get my complaint directly to the full board so they can see it, or can I have contact with the reviewing vets on the board during the investigation? 

No on both counts. Complaints are funneled through the board agency/staff and go through several steps. You cannot contact the board directly, or the reviewing vets on the case. The veterinarian, however, can have contact with the reviewing vets during the investigation. 

Do I get to see the vet's response to my complaint? 

Yes! Thanks to longtime efforts by Texas advocate Greg Munson, the attorney general ruled that there was no reason the complainant could not see the vet's written response. The complainant now automatically sees a copy of the vet's response when the vet sends it to the investigators. See more info here at Texas Vet Boardwatch.

Why doesn't the entire board evaluate a case? Isn't that what they were appointed to do?

According to information supplied by the board agency, the veterinarians on the board do not have the time and do not get paid. They do not receive a salary, and do not have the time to evaluate every case. Only two reviewing vets evaluate the case, and prior to 2005, it was only one. Suki's case was evaluated and summarily dismissed by ONE vet. 

What is the informal conference?

The informal conference is a proceeding that consists of the Enforcement Committee (usually the non-vet Executive Director, the two reviewing veterinarians who evaluated the original complaint,  one public member, the director of enforcement, the attorney general counsel, and the investigator on the case) -- NOT the full board. The complainant is permitted to attend and is encouraged to do so. The vet will also be notified.  The informal conference is not a legal proceeding. It takes place behind closed doors, with no record of the proceedings; however, no one can prevent you from releasing the name of the vet, the fact that you filed a complaint, the information in the complaint, or the proceedings of the informal conference. The board has no jurisdiction over citizens; they are a licensing, regulatory, and disciplining entity that governs veterinarians, the board, and the agency itself ONLY. 

Can I bring my attorney to the informal conference?  

You can make a request to do so, but it is up to the board to decide if your request is granted. Vets, on the other hand, have the right to bring any attorney of their choosing without having to get permission.  My request to bring my attorney, for example, was denied. 

Is the informal conference the same as a board hearing?

No. They are two entirely separate proceedings. Few cases get to the hearing stage, unfortunately, as opportunities for dismissal and agreed (consent) order can come into play along the way, thereby never reaching a hearing.  Consent orders (agreed orders) could be compared to a plea bargaining arrangement between the vet, the vet's attorneys -- sometimes paid for by the vet's insurance companies who hire lawyers to represent the vet during this process  -- and the board. But an actual, legal Administrative Hearing takes place ON THE RECORD, before an Administrative Law Judge, and is a PUBLIC PROCEEDING. This usually happens when a vet has been found in violation of statutes of the Texas Veterinary Practice Act, and for whatever reason refuses to sign a consent order agreeing to disciplinary action.  The informal conference as described above, which takes place only if the reviewing vets decide that conference is needed after reviewing the original complaint and the vet's response,  is not a legal proceeding, although complainants now have the right to request that an attorney attend with them. This was not always the case, as past complainants were denied the right to counsel during the informal conference, while the vet was always guaranteed the privilege of bringing his. Improvements need to be implemented in the complaint review process to make it an equitable one for both sides. 

Can I appeal the decision if the complaint is dismissed? 

You can try. They have now what is called a "courtesy appeal" for the complainant if their case is dismissed by the reviewing vets, which was not the case in Suki's and my day. If anybody has had any success with this, I would love to know about it. 

-J.C.

Disclaimer: None of the above is intended to be legal or medical advice. Vetabusenetwork.com assumes no responsibility for actions taken as a result of any information provided here. Please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas for more information. 

 

TEXAS

Roque Gonzalez, DVM 

   Animal Care Services Fires Head Veterinarian, San Antonio, KSAT-TV, ksat12.com

  City Veterinarian Investigated by TroubleShooters, San Antonio, woai.com, November 20, 2006

William Lammers,  DVM

Death by the Pound, San Antonio Express-News

 

Jonathan Ward Brooke, DVM

Kerrville Veterinarian Charged in Child Sex Crime  Office of the Attorney General, Texas

 

Mircea Volosen, DVM:

Whatever happened to Dr. Dachshund Killer? 

Remember Mircia Volosen, DVM, the dog killer in Colleyville, Texas, who bludgeoned to death not one but two dogs in two separate incidents that he claimed were after his chickens (or was it rabbits? His story seems to change...) First he killed a Labrador, then a miniature dachshund (while the dog was walking back to her owner, Volosen's neighbor who called his dog back) claiming he had to defend his livestock (the aforementioned chicken-rabbits). For a while it looked like there would be justice, with a criminal conviction (yay!) of felony animal cruelty. But no. As usual, vets and money speak louder than actions. Volosen appealed the verdict, and his animal cruelty conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeals, Texas, Fort Worth. 

Read the coverage on him -- and then the killer ending: 

Mircia Volosen, DVM, Guilty of Animal Cruelty 
http://PetoftheDay.com/talk/showthread.php?53526-Vet-guilty-of-animal-cruelty&s=d8964b6bdd7c9db36113c26cf3e1a059

More on Dr. Dog-Killer
http://www.inhumane.org/data/MVolosen.htm

More on Dr. Dog-Killer here
http://www.localnewsonly.com/01newlno/clvnews/04_07_14vettrial.htm

Vet Indicted in Dog's Death (Colleyville, TX) star-telegram.com, Sept. 4, 2003
http://lists.envirolink.org/pipermail/ar-news/Week-of-Mon-20030901/005906.html

It's also not the first time this vet has killed an animal
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=105&topic_id=1399507&mesg_id=1400510

Neighbors Protest Vet's Office After Dog's Death
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-105139206.html

Was Mircia Volosen Acquitted?
http://www.animallaw.info/cases/caustx2006wl349713.htm

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fort Worth, Overturns Guilty Verdict
http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?page=1&xmldoc=2006789192SW3d597_1765.xml&docbase=CSLWAR2-1986-2006&SizeDisp=7


And where is this dog killer now? Well, lucky us. He's right here in San Antonio, practicing at Becker Animal Hospital. 

Related: 

Michael C. Becker, DVM

Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, Disciplinary Action Against Michael C. Becker, DVM, San Antonio, for Statute Violation in Controlled Substance Recordkeeping. See Negotiated Settlement, Summary of Charges, and Disciplinary Action by the TBVME here

Back to News Page

 

Attention Texas residents: Does your vet obey the law?

Do you see this sign at your veterinarian's clinic? 

If not, maybe it's time to find another vet. Vets in Texas are required to post notice of where to file complaints. 

 

Amendment in Texas passed by citizen advocates, then repealed by the TVMA - See UPDATE below

On February 8, 2007, I attended the meeting of the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners in Austin, Texas. Board meetings are open to the public. -- J.C.

Austin, February 8, 2007 - At the last public meeting of the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, Board members voted to pass an amendment to Rule 575.27 -- Complaints - Receipt, Investigation and Disposition -- which will require veterinarians to turn over patient records to board investigators at the onset of an investigation instead of seeing the complaint first and then submitting records.

This practice has been in effect since June 2006, according to Lee Mathews, attorney general counsel, and Peter Hartline, director of enforcement.+

But this action makes it official, and hopefully a step toward a fairer complaint review process that holds licensees of the state accountable for their treatment of our pets if any statutes of the Veterinary Practice Act have been violated. 

Under the new amendment, the veterinarian must turn over records first, and then when he or she receives the complaint, will provide their written answer to the allegations. [Note: Based on what some vets wrote, they appeared to be confused as to the process, thinking that they would have to respond to allegations without being able to see the complaint. This is not the case.]

Board member Dr. Guy Johnsen was a strong proponent of the amendment, who claimed that getting patient records first would make the process cleaner, and that he has been in informal conferences where there have been issues of discrepancies in patient records. The amendment was opposed by Dr. Guy Sheppard, president of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, among others. 

Texas veterinarians expressed their opposition and support in emails to the board. [Note: Documents submitted in testimony to board proceedings, including support of and opposition to proposed amendments, are public record.]  Excerpts follow:

"I am opposed to the rule change....It automatically assumes that all veterinarians are dishonest and devious." Lott vet.

A Houston vet wrote he was "offended" by the proposed change, saying "this puts my integrity into question," adding, "And if this idea gets much media attention, how is the public going to view our profession? Sure some will say its [sic] an absurd method of oversight, but most will think that we have done something to deserve this level of disrespect."

"I have been practicing veterinary medicine for fifty one (51) years now and have never received any instructions or examples from the State Board as to what forms should be used for patient records or what information should be included in the records!!!!!" -- Bay City vet. 

"It places the veterinarian at disadvantage is [sic] preparing with his/her attorney to schedule the defense. Insurance companies and law firms need as much lead time as possible in our current litigious society."  -- The Woodlands vet. 

"We are a group of highly ethical professionals and over-regulating the profession will not promote better health care or record keeping. It will only benefit the lawyers." Cedar Park vet.

"I am opposed to rule 575.27 My rights as a veterinarian are few enough right now." -- Houston vet.

"The Board already acts like the Gestapo. This...gives additional power to the Board to deal with us in a high-handed fashion." -- Premont vet. 

"The state board should be fair in dealing with those of us who pay our license fees yearly and depend on them for a fair mediation of complaints." -- Tyler vet. 

"If a clinic keeps poor records, they are going to be of little to no use to you in either their original or altered form!"  -- Houston vet. 

"Since the patient records are my records of treatment etc for a particular patient, they do not belong to you (the board) and you need to explain to me why you want a copy, or have a judge (probably federal) tell me I have to give you a copy." -- Magnolia vet. 

"My clinic and many others are now mostly paper less [sic] and I have multiple backups on non alterable [sic] CD's and DVD's. As more clinics become this way, records will become more unalterable." -- Sugar Land vet.

Pro-amendment veterinarians wrote in with comments such as "positive move," "a great idea," or that they had "no problem" with it. 

"I understand the need to check records of a patient pertaining to a particular complaint before they can be altered." -- San Antonio vet. 

"Although it is not going to be liked by many veterinarians, I feel [it] will prevent veterinarians from altering their records to better suite [sic] the complaint." -- Conroe vet. 

"As long as you treat addressed vets as innocent until proven guilty, I would see no reason to oppose this measure." -- Cleburne vet.

"I believe that asking for the records of the client first before sending the complaint might be able to get a more accurate record of the event." -- San Antonio vet. 

"I am for [it]...a great idea so veterinarians can not change the requested records concerning the allegations." -- Del Rio vet.

"Initially I was totally against the [amendment]," wrote one Houston vet, "but the more I thought about it, I now agree with it." 

UPDATE: The TVMA succeeded in getting the above amendment repealed, thereby once again putting the vets' interests ahead of animals well-being. 

Related story:

At the October meeting, opposition succeeded in killing an amendment   that would have required veterinarians to note in their records services, diagnostics, and treatments offered to the clients and declined.  Read more

 

Editorial

UPDATE....Proposed Amendment to Record-Keeping Statute Withdrawn at TSBVME Public Meeting October 12....

OCTOBER 12, 2006 -- At the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners public meeting, the proposed amendment to the Texas Veterinary Practice Act statute regarding record-keeping was withdrawn. 

Despite support by the amendment's author, Board member  Guy W. Johnsen, DVM, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association's official opposition apparently doomed the amendment.  The TVMA stated, among other things, that the amendment would result in veterinarians practicing "defensive medicine" and expressed concerns that the amount of information required on a patient record could become "overwhelming." They recommended that instead of a rule, that it should be a suggestion that vets should note services offered and refused. The Board agreed.

If some vets aren't following the statutes, what makes anybody think they're going to follow a suggestion? 

Apparently, some veterinarians think that recording the RECOMMENDATIONS of the vet and the DECISIONS of the pet's owner (remember us?)  regarding services, diagnostics, and treatments offered are not worthy of being noted in the patient record because it, in effect, amounts to nothing more than additional paperwork for veterinarians. 

Patient records are not "paperwork" -- they are our pets' lives. 

Any vet who tells you that a patient chart or patient records are incidental, unimportant, optional, or says that he or she prefers to focus on patient care rather than dealing with unnecessary  "paperwork" imposed by bureaucrats (or anything remotely resembling ANY of the above statements), I would recommend running for your life. And don't forget to take your pet with you. 

WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU: Unfortunately, it means status quo. Pet owners in Texas remain up the creek with regard to any hope for a complete and accurate patient record that reflects THE VET'S RECOMMENDATIONS AND THEIR DECISIONS. It means that if something goes very wrong, and you file a complaint alleging the standard of care was breached because proper treatments were not administered, you will have to deal with a veterinarian who will state that he offered the proper diagnostics, services, and treatments -- and you refused.  You will be in he said/she said hell while the vet sits comfortably by knowing that once again there will be no accountability --  not for violating the standard of care in the first place, and certainly not for his records, because there will be no requirement for him to record any incidents of client communication. Client communication. Apparently some vets think that client communication doesn't rate a mention  -- in the worst cases, not even ONCE -- in their own pet's records. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Guess it's time for pet owners to start practicing defensive consumerism. This means you are going to have to get copies of your pet's record after every visit to make sure that what occurred in the exam is what really happened. If a vet made recommendations for treatment and you refused, ask him to note that in the record. DO NOT send a letter or make your own notes to that effect -- they mean nothing if the vet removes them from the record claiming he never got those either. MAKE SURE THAT WHATEVER NEEDS TO BE NOTED IN THE FILE IS PART OF THE ACTUAL FILE. 

Sound like a lot of trouble? It is. You certainly don't need to go through all that with, say, your car. A mechanic has to get your signature for repairs that you approve before he can touch those four wheels. Wonder if veterinarians would as easily hand over their cars, trucks, and SUVS to their friendly neighborhood auto shop without knowing EXACTLY what was going to be done to their "babies." But it looks like they don't want to give our pets the same consideration they expect and demand for their own property. And unfortunately, under the law,  that's all our pets are. 

Since some vets don't seem to think that their RECOMMENDATIONS and YOUR DECISIONS are important enough to write down,  then we are going to have to help them. GET COPIES OF YOUR PET'S RECORDS AFTER EVERY VISIT. IT MAY BE THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN HELP ENSURE THAT IF YOU FILE A COMPLAINT, THOSE RECORDS DON'T SUDDENLY HAVE "NEW" NOTATIONS ON THEM. 

Better yet, choose a veterinarian who keeps good records. How? Ask to see samples of the type of records they keep. Are they kept on computer? Handwritten? What information is recorded? Do they use consent forms?  How and where are recommendations for diagnostics and treatment noted? Where is your decision noted? 

If a friend recommends a vet, ask them if they have copies of their pet's medical records and ask to see them. Most friends who are anxious to recommend their favorite vet should also be happy to let you see how good he is at keeping records. Similarly, a vet who is interested in your pet (and your business) should also be happy to let you examine samples of how he keeps records. Look at all examples of good pet patient records that you can find, online and off, and then make your decision. Your pet's life -- and your ability to hold a vet accountable should that life be lost due to negligence -- may depend on it. 

--J.C.

 

From the Texas Vet Board website:

Compact with Texas

The Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is the State's agency that regulates the practice of veterinary medicine by licensing and regulating veterinarians. It also takes action against non-licensed persons who violate the Veterinary Licensing Act by practicing without a license. The Board licenses individuals by verification of their credentials and examination. Those who meet the minimum qualifications and pass the required examinations receive a license that is renewed annually. The agency receives and investigates complaints against veterinarians and persons practicing without a license. The Board sanctions licensees who have been found to have violated the Board's rules and the Act. Cases involving practicing without a license are investigated and, if a violation is found, the Executive Director first seeks voluntary compliance by getting the person to sign a cease and desist order. If further violations occur, the law requires these cases be prosecuted by a county or district attorney.

The Board and its staff are committed to excellence in their service to the public and the veterinary profession. The Board's first priority is to protect the public. It must maintain high standards for veterinarians who seek licensure in Texas, as well as high standards for those who are already in practice. The Board also has a commitment to its licensees by keeping them informed about the law, its rules, and related information. In keeping with these commitments, the Board has the following goals, objectives, and standards of performance.

General Office Operations

All staff will be courteous and professional in dealing with persons who contact the Board's office.

During office hours callers will be greeted by a receptionist, not an automated option menu.

No caller will be placed on hold for more than one minute except in unusual circumstances or when they are waiting for staff to retrieve information. If being on hold is inconvenient, staff will get the person's number and call the person back with the information.

At least 95% of open records requests will be completed and returned or mailed within 24 hours of receipt. Requests that require data base inquiries will be filled within 10 business days.

At least 90% of the requests for information via the internet will have a response within three business days. None will be over 5 business days without informing the person making the request of the expected time to provide the information requested.

Requests for publications - Board publications include examination applications, laws, rules, newsletters, and brochures. At least 90% of the requests will have the items mailed within 24 hours. All requests will be met within 3 business days unless extraordinary circumstances occur.

Complaints and Enforcement

Goal - Complaints will be investigated thoroughly, in a timely manner, and the integrity of the process will be maintained.

Objective - The average resolution time for resolving complaints against veterinarians will be 140 days or less.

Objective - A public member of the Board will be present during informal disciplinary conferences in at least 50% of the conferences held.

Compliance Inspections - The Board will increase the number of compliance inspections performed annually from 400 to 600, contingent upon adequate travel funds.

License and Examinations

License Verifications - Written requests for license verification will be met within 5 business days; none more than 10 days. Telephone requests are provided at the time of the call.

Requests for License and Examination information will be sent within 3 business days of the receipt of the request.

Processing of License renewals - License renewal certificates will be sent to the licensee within 3 business days of receipt of the completed renewal form and correct payment. None will be sent more than 5 business days after receipt, unless extraordinary circumstances arise.

Examination Results - Results are mailed to applicants within 14 days from the receipt of results, provided all application requirements are met.

Information Service Information is provided to the Board's customers by the following resources.

Board Notes - The Board meets three times each year. After each meeting a newsletter is distributed to all licensees and any other party who requests it. The newsletter contains information about major issues or events, the text or summaries of proposed and adopted rules, and disciplinary actions taken by the Board.

Website - The Board maintains a website. It includes or has links to: the Veterinary Licencing Act; Board rules; examination dates, locations, and application deadlines; board meeting dates, times, and locations; special notices; key information from the Board's publication, Board Notes; and, numerous agencies and organizations related to the practice and regulation of veterinary medicine. The site also publishes the current board members names and their home towns.

Filing a Complaint with the Board

The Board only investigates written complaints submitted on a specific form. Each veterinarian is required to display a notice that indicates how and to whom complaints are filed. Requests for information about filing a complaint may come by phone, be written, or e-mailed. If the person wishes to make a complaint, a complaint form and a general information brochure will be sent that explains the jurisdiction of the Board, an overview of the process, and instructions on how to complete the complaint form. When the completed form is received, within 5 days the complainant is sent a confirmation letter confirming receipt of the complaint and a second brochure that explains the complaint resolution process more fully. A similar letter and brochure is sent to the veterinarian along with a copy of the complaint and a request that the veterinarian respond to the complaint. Parties in a complaint are informed of the status of the complaint at least every 90 days. To receive a complaint form, you may call (800) 821-3205.

The agency customer service representative is Loris Jones (Loris.Jones@tbvme.state.tx.us). She may be contacted via e-mail or at the address and telephone numbers listed below.

The Board is committed to providing excellent customer service. Concerns with regard to the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiner's staff may be directed to Loris Jones, Customer Service Representative. A response will be provided with 5 working days.

 

DISCLAIMER: vetausenetwork.com is an independent consumer advocacy site and not associated with any state licensing board or regulatory agency in any way.