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Veterinary Malpractice-A Different Ball Game

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dog and vet
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We’re all familiar with the term “malpractice” when it comes to medical care, but when dealing with veterinarians the laws are quite different than they are for medical doctors.  Examples of veterinary malpractice include incorrect diagnosis, prescribing inappropriate medication, following a wrong course of treatment or abandonment of treatment altogether.

Awards for veterinary malpractice vary dramatically from medical malpractice.  In most cases, if the court rules in your favor in a vet malpractice case, you recover only the costs you paid for your pet’s treatment.  If your pet dies, most state laws allow for only the “market value” of replacing your pet.  Damages for “pain and suffering” are not considered.

It’s best to settle vet malpractice cases out of court whenever possible, mediators can be a great help in keeping emotions on both sides in check and coming to a solution workable for both sides.

Veterinarians are licensed in the state where they practice and it is possible to lodge a complaint with the state licensing board if malpractice is suspected.  Once a complaint is filed with the board, they will investigate and take whatever action they feel is appropriate.  Normal sanctions include fines, suspension or revoking the veterinarians license.  Some licensing boards offer a dispute resolution service which can be more cost effective than a court case.

 

Info for this post from Whole Dog Journal, March 2012

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