Has a veterinary license complaint been filed against you? There are 6 potential results when someone files a complaint with the California Veterinary Medical Board (“VMB”) against a veterinarian. If the first result occurs, you may not even know that a complaint had been filed. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Board may refer the case for investigation in a few different manners. It may be referred to the Board Consultant, referred for formal investigation, referred for complaint related investigation, or, for cases involving specialty care and treatment, referred for an expert review. If the case is referred for investigation, you can expect the result to be one of the three results below.
1. The Board closes the complaint.
Hundreds of complaints are filed with the VMB each year. However, some of those complaints do not fall within the jurisdiction, or authority, of the VMB. The VMB can only handle administrative violations under the California Veterinary Practice Act. For example, the VMB cannot investigate fee disputes or collection methods. If the VMB does not have the authority to investigate the case, the complaint is closed. Additionally, if the case is referred for investigation but no violation of the California Veterinary Practice Act occurred, the VMB will close the case.
2. Issue a citation or fine.
If an investigation results in a finding that there was a violation, the VMB may issue a citation or fine. Citations and fines are issued when more severe action is not warranted – license suspension, license revocation or criminal prosecution. The severity of these penalties relates to the nature and gravity of the violation.
3. Refer the case to the Attorney General’s Office.
In more serious cases, the VMB may refer the case to the Attorney General’s Office for formal disciplinary action. In these cases, formal accusations are drafted – this action is the first public acknowledgement of the disciplinary action. A hearing date will be set and the case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge. The judge will issue a proposed decision which will then be voted on by members of the VMB. The VMB can approve the decision, in which case it becomes final, or it can request documents and transcripts and issue its own decision. This process can take up to two years and there are options to appeal a dissatisfactory ruling.
Are you facing a licensing issue? Consult an attorney early on in your case to ensure you protect your rights and livelihood. Give us a call today for your consultation.