California Veterinary Medical Board
Defense of Licensed Veterinarians
Each year, the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) receives over 1,000 complaints about licensees from consumers, in addition to complaints from professional societies, law enforcement agencies, and other governmental agencies. The VMB also receives information regarding misconduct via self-reporting on license renewals and regular auditing of licensees.
If you’re a licensed veterinarian facing a board investigation or disciplinary proceeding, our attorneys have the experience and resources to provide expert representation.
Complaints and investigations
The VMB’s authority to investigate is limited to administrative violations of the California Veterinary Practice Act, including:
- Unprofessional conduct
- Sanitary condition of a facility
Notably, the VMB does not have jurisdiction over complaints regarding fee disputes or collection methods.
Upon receiving a complaint, staff determines whether the board has jurisdiction. If jurisdiction is established, the board sends letters to the complainant, respondent, and consulting veterinarian (if applicable). Depending on the allegations, the board will request responses to specific questions, narrative statements, and medical records including radiographs. The analyst may also request records from other agencies involved in the matter.
When the board receives the requested information, one of its analysts reviews the complaint file. The analyst determines to either: (1) close the case; (2) refer it to the board consultant for review; (3) issue a citation and fine; (4) refer for a formal investigation; and/or (5) refer for a complaint related inspection; or (6) refer to an expert for review.
Where the board finds more serious violations, the case may be referred to a deputy attorney general for a formal disciplinary action. The attorney general may file an accusation or, in the case of an applicant, a statement of issues, which initiates a formal hearing process under the California Administrative Procedures Act.
Penalties imposed at the administrative hearing stage may include a public reprimand, probation, suspension, probation with suspension, surrender of license, license revocation, or a denial of license application. Upon issuing one of these penalties, the VMB also reports the disciplinary action to the National Disciplinary Database (NDDB) tracking system.
How we can help
While each situation is unique, it is wise to engage counsel before responding to the board’s analyst or a request for information. Answering questions, providing documents or evidence, or agreeing to other actions without counsel can be risky. As a licensed veterinarian, you have important statutory and constitutional rights, as well as complex legal duties with respect to your clients. Immediately seeking advice from an attorney experienced with the California Veterinary Medical Board helps to defend your reputation, your business, and your career.