Letter to dvm360: Beware fraud charges from your state board

November 8, 2016
Cheryl Waterhouse, DVM

In response to a recent installment of The Dilemma, a California veterinarian offers two main recommendations for a smooth board review: Keep excellent medical records, and never alter them.

I am concerned that one statement in Dr. Marc Rosenberg's article, "Beware the board: 6 tips to survive a state inquiry," in the October issue of dvm360 could be misleading to veterinarians.

In the hypothetical scenario presented by the author, a seasoned veterinarian gives an associate a list of suggestions for responding to a letter she's received from the state board of veterinary medical examiners. The third bullet point says, "Be sure all submitted medical records are in order and meet state practice act requirements for medical record keeping."

This is very true if you are referring to a rigorous approach to all record keeping (before a complaint is filed). But often a client requests and receives medical records before filing a complaint. The board will then ask the client to send his or her copy of the medical records. In California, altering or changing a record in response to a request by the board to submit medical records is unlawful. The veterinarian could be charged with fraud, which is often a worse charge than the original complaint.

My two main recommendations are to keep excellent medical records, then never alter them.

Cheryl Waterhouse, DVM

Waterhouse Animal Hospital

Fresno, California