Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Pet clinic complaint amended

Report: Officials allege facility's use of unlicensed personnel extends beyond time previously noted.
By Joe Segura, Staff writer

FOUNTAIN VALLEY State officials have amended a complaint against a Southland animal clinic, alleging it continued to use unlicensed anesthesiologists in 2000, two years after a non-veterinarian left his post as director of surgery.

A state Veterinary Medical Board report on Fountain Valley- based All Care Animal Referral Center alleged that unlicensed employees continued to administer anesthesia to pets in 2000, according to a complaint report from the state attorney general's office. He allegedly performed anesthesia duties, along with cleaning and suturing wounds from 1955 to May 1998, the report states.

During his stay at All Care, the worker was promoted to director of surgery even though he was not a credentialed veterinarian, states the complaint filed by state Deputy Attorney General Linda K. Schneider.

The clinic treats 30,000 pets a year from Los Angeles and Orange counties. Its permit expires May 15, and a hearing on the potential license-revoking issues is scheduled in San Diego on April 28.

Attorney Dan Stanley, who is handling the case for All Care, said that the clinic is innocent of the allegations.

"The entirety of the case lacks merit,' he said.

The case against All Care was first triggered by Studio City resident Joanne Patrice, who filed a complaint in 1998 saying that her cat was given an unnecessary operation that led to its heart failure and death.

In its original complaint, the Veterinary Medical Board alleged the clinic's heavy-equipment worker was twice instructed "to create new, inaccurate patient medical records, after the fact.'

Those "falsified medical records' were submitted to the board Nov. 12, 1998, Schneider alleges.

Despite complaints from employees, the clinic told potential customers that unlicensed staffers were board-certified practitioners, describing two as an internist and another as a neurologist.

In fact, the amendment to the report states, that in 2000 and 2001, the clinic had published advertisements in the Pacific Bell Smart Yellow Pages, Verizon Super Pages and Pulse an official publication of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association monthly journal.

"The advertisements are deceptive in that they mislead consumers ... that (All Care) has specialists in many specialty areas of veterinary medical practice who are highly trained and are leaders in their field who are regularly available to diagnose and treat rare disease.'

That's not the case, according to the report.

"In fact, (All Care) had only a few board certified specialists on staff who were regularly available,' the report added, alleging that some of the listed staff members do not live in Southern California.

Studio City attorney J. Diane Parrish, who represents Patrice, said the state needs to act more quickly against clinics to safeguard pets.


Source: The Long Beach Press Telegram