How to enjoy being in practice and avoid claims of negligence and misconduct

12 October 2016

On 14th September 2016, New Era Veterinary Hospital in Jersey hosted a VDS/BSAVA-sponsored meeting of Channel Island vets. Carl Padgett from the VDS gave an enthusiastic presentation on how to avoid complaints, and what to do if they arise.

The difference between negligence (where your actions fall short of what is reasonable for a vet of similar competence) and misconduct (where your actions or behaviour fall far short of what is expected of the profession) was discussed. Good communication definitely seemed the most important skill in avoiding either situation, especially ensuring informed consent and making detailed contemporaneous notes/records, with the difference between expressing sympathy and admitting liability also being explored. Other tips included meeting your CPD targets, working within your competence, being prepared to offer referral, and never falsifying certification.

If the worst arose, and a RCVS complaint was made, Carl highlighted the importance of staying calm, investigating the issue fully, and ensuring that any replies would be suitable to be read by not only the RCVS but also by the complainant and possibly their lawyers. The roles of the RCVS Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Committees were also discussed.

Whilst a lot of the areas covered were actually very serious, this talk succeeded in making what could have been an intimidating topic much less daunting.

This report was written by Ian Cox, Southern Region Committee member.