By: Thomas G. Redmon, Esq.
Wilke, Fleury, Hoffelt, Gould & Birney, LLP
The Veterinary Medical Board’s “Cite and Fine” Program was first implemented in 1990 to aid in the processing of complaints made against veterinarians. “Cite and Fine” issues can be the result of a number of problems, ranging from inadequate recordkeeping to violations in another state. These issues can not only cost your practice money, but they can also lead to more serious disciplinary actions in some cases. For these reasons, strive to protect yourself from “cite and fine” issues as much as possible. To protect your practice, follow these tips:
Keep detailed records.
Failing to keep adequate records on every patient is a common cause of “cite and fine” incidents. Not only can inadequate recordkeeping result in a citation on its own, but it can also complicate other cases that rely on complete records for evidence.
Prevent problems associated with inadequate recordkeeping by creating detailed, complete records for every patient you treat. Establish clear record keeping procedures, educate your staff with regard to these procedures, and make sure that everyone follows these systems at all times and that you and your team amend and refresh them as necessary (for instance, when your office changes locations or gets new computers).
Maintain adequate insurance coverage.
Even with preventative measures in place, you may still encounter VMB complaints. Protect your practice from financial loss by maintaining an appropriate insurance policy. The exact type and amount of insurance you will need depends on the nature of your practice, your specialty and your level of exposure, so it is wise to consult an insurance agent for guidance before you select a policy.
Consult an attorney when necessary.
When an incident occurs or a claim is filed, consult a qualified attorney early in the process. Attempting to deal with these issues on your own may lead to unnecessary financial loss, damage to your reputation and other such consequences. On the other hand, an attorney who has experience dealing with VMB cases can help you gather the evidence you need to defend yourself against the accusations and minimize the likelihood of a citation or more significant disciplinary action.
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