2007-06-26 
 

Registrant: Dr. Rameez Sharma

Inquiry Number: 06-03

Decisions: BCVMA Inquiry Committee (December 17, 2006); BCVMA Council (June 26, 2007)

Findings: In relation to a Feline A, Dr. Sharma failed to use a level of care, skill and knowledge expected of a reasonably competent practitioner and failed to create, maintain and keep current a medical record containing appropriate detail.

In relation to a Feline B, Dr. Sharma failed to use a level of care, skill and knowledge expected of a reasonably competent practitioner in the level of performance of a tendonectomy; failed to obtain informed consent as to the services to be provided; failed to create, maintain and keep current a medical record; falsified, deliberately, the medical record and made misleading statements to the client regarding the performance of a tendonectomy; falsified, deliberately, the medical record, with the intent to mislead the Complaint Officer; and, made misleading statements to the Complaint Officer that he did not perform a tendonectomy when he knew the statements to be untrue. Council found Dr. Sharma guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Disposition: Dr. Sharma was suspended from practice for one year and ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 and the costs of the inquiry. Council imposed a practice restriction that Dr. Sharma not perform declaws (onychectomies) and tendonectomies until he wrote and passed an examination on these procedures. Council also required Dr. Sharma to write and pass the BCVMA Bylaws and Ethics examination before being reinstated to practice.Dr. Sharma is entitled to practice veterinary medicine however the practice restriction imposed by Council remains in effect.



 2007-10-12 
 

Registrant: Dr. Jogpreet Jagpal

Inquiry Number: 06-02

Decisions: BCVMA Inquiry Committee (April 20, 2007); BCVMA Council (October 12, 2007)

Findings: In relation to a feline, Dr. Jagpal failed to provide the appropriate level of care, skill, and knowledge expected of a reasonably competent practitioner and failed to prepare and maintain a medical record containing appropriate detail of the history, examination, diagnosis, recommendations and treatment including medications prescribed and administered, referrals and other pertinent information.

In relation to a canine, Dr. Jagpal failed to obtain informed consent as to the services to be provided to a patient by not providing the clients with the information including advice, reasonably required, to enable the clients to make informed choices concerning the health care of their animal; failed to use a level of care, skill and knowledge expected of a reasonably competent practitioner in the advice and management of the treatment; and, failed to maintain and keep current a medical record containing appropriate detail of the history, examination, diagnosis, recommendations, and treatments, including medications prescribed and administered and other pertinent information pertaining to the patient. Council found Dr. Jagpal guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Disposition: Dr. Jagpal was suspended from practice for a period of three months and was ordered to take a course on medical records prior to the re-instatement of his license. Dr. Jagpal was restricted from performing fracture repair until taking and demonstrating attendance in a course on orthopedic surgery and was required to pay a fine of $5,000 and the costs of the inquiry.



 2009-11-28 
 

Registrant: Dr. Robert Ashburner

Inquiry Number: 08-03

Decisions: BCVMA Inquiry Committee (November 28, 2009); BCVMA Council (June 20, 2009)

Findings: During a private meeting which was secretly recorded, Dr. Ashburner failed to respect the dignity and professional status of a fellow member and belittled, injured or made careless, critical comments on the professional standing or actions of another member. Council found Dr. Ashburner guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Disposition: Council issued a warning to Dr. Ashburner that the duty a veterinarian owes to fellow members to respect their dignity and professional status must be observed at all times. Council stated that it is never acceptable to belittle, injure or make careless critical comment on the professional standing or actions of another member, regardless of the circumstances.



 2010-09-20 
 

Registrant: Dr. Andrew Jones

Inquiry Number: 09-01

Decisions: BCVMA Inquiry Committee (April 20, 2010); CVBC Council (September 20, 2010)

Findings: Dr. Jones engaged in marketing practices in contravention of the Bylaws and violated written undertakings he provided to the BCVMA regarding his marketing practices. Council found Dr. Jones guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Disposition: Council issued Dr. Jones a formal reprimand and a warning against future violations of the Bylaws. Dr. Jones was ordered to pay a fine of $20,000 for violating the marketing guidelines, a fine of $10,000 for violating his two personal undertakings to the BCVMA, and the costs of the inquiry



 2010-11-13 
 
Registrant: Dr. Stephen Harvey

File Number: 09-03

Decisions: BCVMA Inquiry Committee (May 25, 2010); CVBC Council (November 13, 2010)

Findings: In relation to a canine, Dr. Harvey failed to use a level of care, skill and knowledge of a reasonably competent practitioner in the advice and management of treatment and failed to create, maintain and keep current a medical record containing appropriate detail of the history, examination, diagnosis, recommendations and other treatment, including medications prescribed and administered, and other pertinent information pertaining to the client. Council found Dr. Harvey guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Disposition: Council issued Dr. Harvey a formal reprimand. Dr. Harvey was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and the costs of the inquiry in the amount of $5,000. Council directed Dr. Harvey to undertake not to prescribe the drug dipyrone in canine patients, to complete a course on medical records and, in addition to his yearly continuing education requirements, to complete 30 additional hours in Pharmacy, Critical Care and Internal Medicine.



 2012-08-07 
 

Registrant: Dr. Michael Bratt

File Number: 11-04

Decisions: CVBC Discipline Committee - August 7, 2012 (Decision); November 13, 2012 (Penalty).

Findings: The Discipline Committee found that Dr. Bratt failed to comply with the Veterinarians Act, a regulation or bylaw on each of the following three counts;

1. Dr. Bratt admitted that he engaged in misconduct by moving his facility practice location without prior notice to the CVBC (then the BCVMA) contrary to section 22.1, 22.2 and 37(5) of the Bylaws.

2. Dr. Bratt admitted that he engaged in misconduct by moving his facility practice location and operating it prior to the decision of the Practice Accreditation Committee contrary to section 38(1) and 41 of the Bylaws.

3. Dr. Bratt's veterinary facility was accredited as a general facility under the Bylaws. Dr. Bratt did not seek accreditation for his practice as an emergency facility, which is a distinct, specialized facility. Dr. Bratt employed a red neon "Emergency" sign in the window of this clinic. The Discipline Committee found that the existence of the neon sign, whether lit or unlit, was reasonably capable of misleading the public into believing either that the facility was an emergency facility or that the clinic had the available resources including the time needed to manage some emergency cases. the Discipline Committee therefore found that the conduct of displaying the "Emergency" sign during the period of July 10, 2010 to November 2010 was misconduct that amounted to a breach of sections 103 and 104 of the Code of Ethics concerning advertising by a veterinarian.

Disposition: The Discipline Committee accepted the joint submission on penalty proposed by Dr. Bratt and counsel for the CVBC. Dr. Bratt was:

a) ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $1,500 on each of count 1 and 2; and a fine of $4,500 on count 3, for a total fine of $7,500.

b) required to remove the "Emergency" sign by 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 15, 2012; and,

c) ordered to pay 50% of the costs of the investigation and the discipline hearing.

Dr. Bratt also undertook not to erect any sign using or displaying the word "emergency" unless and until his facility is accredited as an emergency clinic.



 2014-04-25 
 

Registrant: Dr. Bhupinder Johar

File Numbers: 04-111, 05-035, 05-012, 04-029 (08-01 / H12-10)

Decisions: BCVMA Inquiry Committee [continuing under the Veterinarians Act, S.B.C. 2010, c. 15] (August 2012); CVBC Discipline Committee (December 2013)

Findings: File 04-111: The three charges that proceeded to hearing were not proven.

File 05-035: Dr. Johar performed a caesarean section on a dog. The following day, the puppies were not doing well and the owner took the puppies to a second veterinarian facility. Dr. Johar refused to release the dog's complete medical record to the second veterinarian facility but did provide a one page written summary.  Dr. Johar told the dog's owner that the second veterinary facility was making the puppies die because they did not want Dr. Johar in the neighborhood. Dr. Johar further stated that the second veterinary facility was prejudiced and if the owner brought back the puppies to him they would survive. Dr. Johar spoke on the telephone with a veterinarian from the second facility and said, "If you give me trouble I will give you trouble ten times over. I have so many complaints against [another veterinarian]." The Inquiry Committee found that the volumes of medicine administered were missing in Dr. Johar's medical record. The Inquiry Committee found the four charges that proceeded to hearing were proven, that is, Dr. Johar:

(1)  failed to maintain current, complete and accurate medical records;

(4)  failed to release information in the medical record in a timely manner;

(5)  made inappropriate comments about the actions of a fellow member of the BCVMA; and

(6)  acted in an unprofessional manner towards a fellow member of the BCVMA by making threatening comments.

File 05-012: A member of the public arranged for her regular veterinarian to fax Dr. Johar an authorization to sell her the subcutaneous supplies she required to treat her cat at home. In meeting with the member of the public, Dr. Johar made inappropriate comments which were critical about the treatment and recommendations of a fellow member of the BCVMA. Dr. Johar also gave inappropriate advice by recommending that needles be re-used.

File 04-029: Dr. Johar failed to exercise a reasonable degree of care, skill and knowledge with respect to the diagnosis of symptoms concerning a 6-year old male Dachshund, including: a failure to have adequate knowledge of breed specific diseases and of degenerative disc disease; inappropriate prescription of an anti-bacterial / anti-protozoal agent; and lack of knowledge of basic principles of antibiotic and anti-bacterial treatment.

Disposition: The Discipline Committee reprimanded Dr. Johar and imposed a fine of $5,000. The panel also required that prior to December 31, 2014, Dr. Johar must take further education or training with respect to: record keeping; professional ethics; diagnosis of degenerative spine diseases; proper use of antibiotics; and pain management. The panel designated the Deputy Registrar of the CVBC to determine whether the educational requirements are satisfied. If Dr. Johar has completed satisfactory courses in the above-noted subject areas since January 1, 2008, those courses would qualify towards satisfying the educational requirements. If Dr. Johar fails to satisfy the educational requirements his registration will be suspended or restricted until the requirements are met. The panel directed that on or before December 31, 2014, the CVBC must conduct a practice inspection of Dr. Johar's clinic at his expense.

The net costs owing by Dr. Johar to the CVBC was determined to be $63,559.79.

Dr. Johar has appealed the Inquiry Committee and Discipline Committee Decisions with the Supreme Court of British Columbia. He has applied for a Stay of the Penalty with the Discipline Committee pending a court ruling on his appeal. On April 9, 2014 the Discipline Committee Panel ordered a stay of the written reprimand, the $5,000 fine and the costs component of the decision on penalty and costs pending the hearing of Dr. Johar's appeal. The educational and practice inspection aspects of the penalty were not stayed. Dr. Johar's appeal with the Supreme Court of British Columbia is pending.



 2014-04-30 
 

Registrant: Dr. Dave Ruish 

Hearing File Number: H13-01

Decision: CVBC Discipline Committee - April 30, 2014 (Decision on Verdict) / October 15, 2014 (Decision on Penalty & Costs)

Dr. Ruish did not attend the hearing in this matter or provide a written submission although he was given the opportunity to do so. 

 

Dr. Ruish was suspended by Council on October 25, 2012 for non-payment of the 2012 Complaints and Discipline Levy.  His suspension is unrelated to Hearing File 13-01.

Findings: This case involved a canine that presented with an oozing wound on his snout and sores on the inside of his ears and leg. In relation to the canine, the Discipline Committee found that Dr. Ruish failed to comply with the Veterinarian's Act, a regulation, or the Code of Ethics on each of the following five counts:

 

1. Dr. Ruish failed to obtain informed consent as to this services and treatment to be provided to the canine by not providing the canine's owner with sufficient information and advice reasonably required to enable the owner to make informed choices regarding the healthcare for the canine, contrary to section 36 of the Code of Ethics. In this case, before alternative or homeopathic treatment was provided to the canine, the owner was not provided with information about the differences between traditional and alternative forms of treatment and was not asked to sign an "Alternative Therapy Consent Form" or the clinics specific "Holistic Treatment Consent Form", which would indicate that the alternatives had been discussed with her; 

2. Dr. Ruish failed to provide the level of care, skill, and knowledge expected of a competent practitioner in the care an management of a skin lesion, contrary to section 31 of the Code of Ethics. The Discipline Committee found no evidence that the canine's owner was told that there was a proven conventional therapy available to treat the canine. As a result, the Discipline Committee found that the prescription of an alternative therapy to the exclusion of a proven conventional therapy was a breach of section 2 of the Guidelines for the Responsible Use of Alternative Therapies

3. Dr. Ruish delegated procedures or treatment to an employee or person, Julie Ann Lee, for which she was not demonstrably competent, contrary to section 64(2) of the Code of Ethics. Ms. Lee was not trained or registered with the CVBC and was the subject of a 2003 BC Supreme Court order prohibiting her from practising or offering to practise veterinary medicine. Under the court order, Ms. Lee could work as a service provider in a veterinary practice under the proper delegation and supervision of a veterinarian. In this case, the evidence established that once Ms. Lee had been introduced to the canine's owner by Dr. Ruish, he absented himself from the canine's treatment, and either by commission or omission, improperly delegated the care and treatment of the canine to Ms. Lee. 

4. Dr. Ruish, aided, abetted or acquiesced in the unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine by delegating the diagnosis and treatment of the canine to Ms. Lee, a non-veterinarian, contrary to section 61 of the Code of Ethics. The evidence and clinic records establish that Ms. Lee was the primary care provider to the canine and that she prescribed some or all of the canine's treatment; 

5.  Dr. Ruish failed to inform the client in clear terms of the nature of and reasons for the services recommended prior to obtaining consent to perform services. In addition, Dr. Ruish did not provide a cost estimate of the services provided to the canine's owner, contrary to section 38 of theCode of Ethics. 

Disposition: Due to the serious issues raised by the conduct of Dr. Ruish, the Discipline Committee ordered him to pay to the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia (“CVBC”):      a) a fine of $10,000 on or before December 31, 2014; and,
                    b) the costs of the investigation and discipline hearing in the amount of $12,750 on or before February 14, 2015.

 

In imposing this significant penalty, the Discipline Committee noted that the protection of the public interest is paramount.  The Discipline Committee concluded that deterrence of other veterinarians is also of high importance.  In this regard, the Discipline Committee made it clear that the CVBC will not tolerate delegation of the care and treatment of animals by a veterinarian to a non-veterinarian or to someone engaged in unauthorized veterinary medicine practice.  In determining the disposition of this case, the Discipline Committee also considered:

  1. the effect of improper delegation by a veterinarian of the care and treatment of an animal to a non-veterinarian, which can include (i) depriving the animal and its owner of a veterinarian’s knowledge and skill and (ii) unnecessary suffering by an animal;
  2. the importance of a veterinarian providing sufficient information and advice to animal owners to enable them to make informed decisions about care and treatment options; and,
  3. the obligation of a veterinarian to prescribe a traditional treatment for a condition for which there is a proven traditional treatment in accordance with the Guidelines for the Responsible Use of Alternative Therapies, found in the Bylaws at section 14 of Appendix B http://www.cvbc.ca/temp/2014113012177/Appendix_B_-_Facility_Practice_Standards.pdf.


 2014-09-15 
 
Registrant: Dr. Dilbag Rana 

Hearing File Number: H13-08

Decision: CVBC Discipline Committee - June 16, 2014 (Decision on Verdict) / November 5, 2014 (Decision on Penalty & Costs)

Findings: This case involved a 12 year old female canine examined by Dr. Dilbag Rana. The Discipline Committee accepted Dr. Rana's admission that the medical record was deficient as a result of a serious omission of details relating to: (1) a cyanotic episode experienced by the canine; (2) the subsequent administration of oxygen to the canine; (3) communications with the client; and (4) the treatment plan.

The Discipline Committee found that during the examination, contrary to section 81 of the Code of Ethics, Dr. Rana failed to create, maintain and keep a current medical record containing appropriate details of the history, examination, diagnosis, recommendations and treatment, including medications prescribed and administered, and other pertinent information. 

The Discipline Committee noted that it is the duty and obligation of a veterinarian to give a full medical examination, regardless of an animal owner's request or the cost of an examination. In this case, the failure to provide and to record the result of a full medical examination resulted in a deficient medical record, one that did not meet the requirements in section 81 of the Code of Ethics

Disposition: The Hearing Panel assessed the following penalty:
  1. Dr. Rana, at his own expense is to attend a minimum of 8 hours of RACE approved Continuing Education to include 4 hours of anesthesia and 4 hours in emergency medicine. The continuing education is to be completed within 6 months of the date of the Panels Decision and Dr. Rana is to provide evidence of attendance to the Deputy Registrar or Registrar. The continuing education required is to be in addition to and not in substitution of any other required continuing education.
  2. Dr. Rana is required at his own expense, to successfully complete a medical record course provided by “Advise a Vet”, and a medical review of five patient records randomly chosen by a College inspector. The medical record review is to be carried out not less than six months after attending and passing the medical records course. The purpose of the inspection is to ensure that Dr. Rana has remedied the identified deficiency in his practice, and has benefited from the medical records course. Any costs associated with this review or medical records are to be paid by Dr. Rana. This medical records course is to be in addition to any other compulsory continuing education that is required by the College.
  3. Dr. Rana is assessed the costs of the investigation and of the hearing in accordance with section 63(2) of the Veterinarians Act in the amount of $11,268.26. These costs are to be paid on or before May 5, 2015.


 2014-06-27 
 
Registrant: Dr. Joseph Martinez 

Hearing File Number: H11-02

Decision: CVBC Discipline Committee - June 27, 2014 (Decision on Verdict)

Findings: Canine "A" and canine "B" had been in an altercation. After treating canine "B", Dr. Martinez requested the medical records of canine "A" from the canine's treating veterinary clinic. The Discipline Committee accepted that Dr. Martinez requested records of canine "A" pursuant to section 91 of the Code of Ethics in order to ascertain the vaccination and health status of that canine. The Discipline Committee found that having made the request for canine "A's" medical records for a proper purpose, Dr. Martinez did not attempt to improperly obtain medical records of canine "A" from the treating veterinary Clinic without the consent of his owner. In the circumstances, Dr. Martinez' request for the medical records of canine "A" was neither a breach of the Code of Ethics nor professional misconduct. 

The Discipline Committee also found that while Dr. Martinez had two version of the same page of the medical records relating to canine "B", there were no substantive differences between the two versions and it was not likely that DR. Martinez had fabricated the page in question of his medical records in order to mislead or attempt to mislead the CVBC in its investigation of complaints against him. 

Disposition: The two charges that proceeded to hearing were not proven.


 2015-01-23 
 
Registrant:  Dr. Jangbir Bajwa
Hearing File Number: H13-03
Decision:  CVBC Discipline Committee – January 23, 2015 (Decision)
                      Dr. Bajwa was self-represented

Findings:  Dr. Jangbir Bajwa provided care to a 10 to 11 year old male canine from July 10, 2009 to August 16, 2009 (the “treatment period”) when the canine died.

Early laboratory test results suggested a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus (“diabetes”) or potential diabetes.  While one of Dr. Bajwa’s first medical records noted a concern about diabetes, the Discipline Committee found that the seriousness of the situation and importance of treating such a condition promptly was either not communicated directly to the owner or was so poorly communicated that it was not understood.  Dr. Bajwa’s failure to mention diabetes or, alternatively, humane euthanasia, in the medical record after July 10, 2009, as well as his subsequent failure to follow up with the owner shortly thereafter was consistent with Dr. Bajwa not understanding the “gravity of this diagnoses and the implications of not treating it.”

Similarly, Dr. Bajwa’s medical records do not document any discussion of the risks of using a corticosteroid in a patient with diabetes.  In addition, the dosage of NSAID prescribed for the canine 4 days before he died was very high and underscored Dr. Bajwa’s failure to understand that he was treating a diabetic dog.

Considering the totality of the evidence, including expert testimony, the Discipline Committee found that while the canine in question was under Dr. Bajwa’s care during the treatment period, Dr. Bajwa failed to demonstrate the level of care, skill, and knowledge expected of a competent practitioner in the treatment of diabetes, contrary to section 31 of the Code of Ethics.

The Discipline Committee also found that during the treatment period Dr. Bajwa failed to demonstrate the level of care, skill, and knowledge expected of a competent practitioner in the use of NSAIDS and steroids, contrary to section 31 of the Code of Ethics.

Disposition:

The Discipline Committee assessed the penalty to include: 8 hours of continuing education in the area of internal medicine, including 2 hours relating to diabetes diagnosis and treatment, and a course in client communications.  The foregoing were to be completed in addition to any other required continuation.  Costs were also assessed against Dr. Bajwa.


 2015-04-09 
 

Registrant:  Dr. Wayne Etherington

Hearing File Number:  H12-05

CVBC File Numbers:  12-006-A, 12-044, 12-085, 10-071, 08-080, 13-005-A, 13-026, 13-049

Decision:          CVBC Discipline Committee – February 10, 2015 (Decision on Verdict)
                              CVBC Discipline Committee – April 9, 2015 (Decision on Disposition)     
                         Dr. Etherington did not attend the hearing or provide a written submission despite being given the opportunity to do so.   

Background: Dr. Etherington was previously suspended by order of the CVBC pursuant to section 65(2) of the Veterinarians Act, pending the discipline hearing outcome. Failing to comply with this order, Dr. Etherington became the subject of a BC Supreme Court injunction restraining him from practicing veterinary medicine. On February 19, 2013 Dr. Etherington resigned. He remains a former registrant of the CVBC.
                

Findings: 

i)             File number 12-006-A

On reviewing the evidence, the Discipline Committee found that Dr. Etherington:

a)    contravened sections 26, 27, 29, and 30 of the Code of Ethics as well as sections 100 to 104 of the CVBC Marketing Rules by publishing an advertorial (the “Advertorial”) in a number of Lower Mainland newspapers from about January 1 to July 17, 2012 containing statements that (i) that were comparative and self-laudatory, putting down colleagues and impugning their integrity, (ii) could be interpreted as guarantees and (iii) inferred that Dr. Etherington had superior knowledge to other veterinarians; 

b)     contravened sections 26, 27, 29, and 30 of the Code of Ethics as well as sections 100 and 104 of the CVBC Marketing Rules by sending an undated letter to other CVBC registrants containing similar objectionable contents to those contained in the Advertorial between October 29, 2011 to January 17, 2012; and,

c)     contravened section 102 of the Code of Ethics by publishing in February 2012 on the website of Clayton Animal Hospital Ltd. that he had a specialty in cruciate surgery, when he did not.

During the CVBC’s investigation into this matter between April 30 to June 11, 2012, the CVBC communicated with Dr. Etherington.  The Discipline Committee found that Dr. Etherington’s responses to the CVBC were inappropriate and disrespectful to the CVBC and its employees, as well as disparaging to a colleague, contrary to sections 14 and 26 of the Code of Ethics.

The Discipline Committee also found that Dr. Etherington’s contraventions of the Code of Ethics and Marketing Rules amounted to professional misconduct as defined by the CVBC Bylaws and case authorities.

ii)            File number 12-044

In June 2012, Dr. Etherington obtained an email address from a pet owner after providing treatment to her dog.  Dr. Etherington subsequently emailed her with an invitation to meet him for coffee.  Based on the evidence provided, the Discipline Committee found that Dr. Etherington had obtained her email address for an improper purpose and used it inappropriately.  In doing so, Dr. Etherington’s conduct amounted to unprofessional conduct as it brings the veterinary profession into disrepute.

During the CVBC’s investigation from September to November 2012, the CVBC communicated with Dr. Etherington.  Dr. Etherington provided responses which the Discipline Committee found to be inappropriate and disrespectful to the CVBC, as well as unnecessary and unresponsive to the complaint, contrary to section 14 of the Code of Ethics.

The Discipline Committee also found that both Dr. Etherington’s boundary violation and his contravention of the Code of Ethics amounted to professional misconduct because they flowed directly from his activities as a veterinarian.

iii)           File number 12-085

The CVBC investigated complaints about Dr. Etherington’s improper behavior towards a client, the client’s friend, and one of his own employees.  The Discipline Committee found that the evidence provided by the three female complainants was credible and concluded that:

a)      in December 2012, Dr. Etherington inappropriately touched a client after treating her dog;

b)      in December 2012, Dr. Etherington exposed his genitals in the presence of the client’s friend; and,

c)      in September or October 2012, Dr. Etherington used inappropriate language and acted improperly when he pinched one of his employees’ buttocks.

The Discipline Committee found that Dr. Etherington committed serious boundary violations which amounted to professional misconduct.  No employee, client, or person accompanying a client should be subjected to physical, sexual or verbal abuse or harassment by a veterinarian.  Dr. Etherington’s conduct was a serious breach of the ethical expectations of a veterinarian and brings the veterinary profession into disrepute.  As such, Dr. Etherington’s actions also amounted to unprofessional conduct.

iv)          File number 10-071

Dr. Etherington provided anal gland treatment to a one-year-old Schnauzer from August to November 2010.  After the initial treatment, the problem with the dog’s anal glands recurred and Dr. Etherington performed anal gland removal surgery.  However, the dog remained incontinent and had to be euthanized soon thereafter. 

The Discipline Committee accepted the totality of the evidence presented, including expert evidence, and found that Dr. Etherington:

a) failed to perform an adequate pre-surgical assessment of the canine and failed to advise the pet owners that the surgery was an elective procedure, resulting in the performance of unjustified anal gland surgery.  These failures demonstrated deficiency in the ability, skill, and knowledge of Dr. Etherington and amounted to incompetence;

b) failed to discuss the risks of the surgical procedure (including euthanization) and treatments options with the pet owners, and therefore failed to obtain properly informed consent prior to performing surgery; and

c)   failed to prepare adequate medical records documenting any diagnosis, any anal gland pathology, and any discussion with the pet owners as to the risks and necessity of a surgical procedure in this case.

The Discipline Committee found Dr. Etherington’s conduct amounted to professional misconduct as it fell below the standard expected and required by the CVBC of its registrants.

v)           File number 08-080

In October 2011, Dr. Etherington undertook to complete a continuing education requirement.  He was also given an extension of time to complete this requirement.  However, because no evidence was provided at the hearing about the length of the extension or the date by which the undertaking was to be completed, the Discipline Committee declined to find that Dr. Etherington had breached his continuing education undertaking.

vi)          File number 13-005-A

In January 2013, Dr. Etherington again sent an undated marketing letter to registrants of the CVBC.  Similar to file 12-006-A, the Discipline Committee found that the letter contained comparative and self-laudatory statements that impugned the integrity of other registrants and that could be conceived of as a guarantee and a scientific claim contrary to sections 26, 27, 29, and 30 of the Code of Ethics, sections 100 to 104 of the CVBC Marketing Rules, and Sections 1, 12, and 14 of the CVBC Marketing Guidelines.

The Discipline Committee also accepted the evidence presented that Dr. Etherington used a business name on the letterhead of the undated letter that had not been approved by the CVBC as a practice facility, was not accredited, and had no designated member. 

The Discipline Committee found Dr. Etherington’s actions to be professional misconduct as his actions were either contraventions of the Code of Ethics and Marketing Rules or a violation of the CVBC’s naming rules.

vii)         File number 13-026

In February 2013, Dr. Etherington carried out an eye enucleation surgery on a 16 or 17 year old feline.  Based on the evidence provided, the Discipline Committee found that Dr. Etherington did not perform proper eye enucleation surgery as he failed to remove all of the eyelid margins on both the upper and lower eyelids.  The Discipline Committee accepted the expert evidence that: (1) it is not reasonable to leave behind grossly visible intact eyelid tissue when performing an enucleation; and (2) Dr. Etherington did not meet the standard of a reasonable and competent veterinarian when he performed the enucleation.  Dr. Etherington demonstrated a clear lack of skill and ability, and he was therefore found to be incompetent.

viii)        File number 13-049

Dr. Etherington obtained an email address from a recently separated client who had sought treatment for her dog with oral cancer.  The Discipline Committee reviewed a series of emails sent from Dr. Etherington to the client from before July 2012 to November 2013, showing that Dr. Etherington was seeking a personal relationship with the client.  In addition, the client provided evidence that Dr. Etherington touched her on more than one occasion.

The Discipline Committee accepted the evidence presented and found that Dr. Etherington sent emails to the client that were unwanted, unwelcome, and inappropriate between a professional and a client.  The Discipline Committee noted that it is important for veterinarians to understand, appreciate, and respect the boundaries between themselves and their clients.  Dr. Etherington breached those boundaries with the emails he sent.

The Discipline Committee found that Dr. Etherington also violated the boundaries of a professional and client relationship with the nature and frequency of intentional, unwanted, and inappropriate touching of his client in this case.

In addition, Dr. Etherington:

a)        failed to keep proper medical records in accordance with the CVBC bylaws, as

evidenced by missing entries in the surgical and narcotic drug logs and,

b)        provided replies that were inappropriate, disrespectful, and unresponsive to communications from the CVBC.

 

The Discipline Committee noted that it is important that veterinarians understand their obligation to cooperate with the CVBC in responding to requests for information in a timely and appropriate manner.  A timely response by a registrant is respectful of the CVBC, protects the privilege of self-regulation, and facilitates the work of the CVBC in protecting the public. 

 

The Discipline Committee found that Dr. Etherington’s conduct in this matter amounted to professional misconduct as it fell below the standard expected and required by the CVBC of its registrants.  In addition, Dr. Etherington’s conduct, which brings the veterinary profession into disrepute, amounted to unprofessional conduct.

 

Disposition:  Dr. Etherington committed professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct and acted incompetently in relation to 20 charges.  Consequently, the hearing panel (the “Panel”) considered the Veterinarians Act and the College Transitional Bylaw and ordered Dr. Etherington to pay to the CVBC:

a)     a fine of $40,000 on or before December 3, 2015.  Any application by Dr. Etherington to extend the time period to pay the fine must be brought before December 3, 2015; and,

b)     maximum costs in the amount of $74,254.80.  The Panel ordered Dr. Etherington to pay the maximum costs given the nature, gravity, and number of charges proved against Dr. Etherington, the impact of his conduct on those affected by it, his failure to respond with communications expected of a regulated professional, and the lack of any reasons offered by Dr. Etherington to reduce the amount of costs payable.

 

In imposing the fine above, the Panel reviewed case authorities and also considered that Dr. Etherington:

  • did not admit the wrongful conduct  and has no insight into his shortcomings;
  • has not taken any steps to address his incompetency or serious boundary violations;
  • has been very disrespectful of and to the CVBC; and,
  • is ungovernable.

 

In determining the disposition of this case, the Panel noted that the gravity and nature of Dr. Etherington’s wrongful conduct justified a significant penalty, such as revocation of registration.  As Dr. Etherington is not a CVBC registrant, this penalty was not available to the Panel.  However, the Panel exercised its jurisdiction to make several non-binding recommendations to provide guidance to the Registration Committee should Dr. Etherington apply for registration with the CVBC, including that he be ineligible to apply for registration for at least 5 years.