One of the key tenets of a self-governed profession is the requirement of the members of the profession to regulate and, when
warranted, sanction its own members who might engage in conduct which is unprofessional and adverse to the public interest.
All veterinarians in throughout North America are governed by their own state or provincial licensing bodies which have a
mandate to regulate the profession including taking appropriate investigative and disciplinary action. Having one's conduct
reviewed by one's own peer group can be a stressful and worrisome time; hopefully, understanding the process that is undertaken
and recognizing that there are protocols established to ensure the fairness of the proceeding may serve to relieve some of
State and provincial statutes permit the licensing boards and regulatory authorities to initiate an investigation into the
conduct of a veterinary practitioner in the event that the board becomes aware of allegations of inappropriate conduct. In
addition, investigations can be commenced as a result to a formal, written complaint by a client or other member of the public
about the conduct of a veterinarian; most typically, written complaints are dealt with initially at the complaints committee
or peer review committee of the state or provincial organization after the practitioner has had an opportunity to respond,
in writing, to the allegations that have been levelled against him or her. In most cases, the decision of the complaints committee
or peer review committee is such that no further action is required; however, in more serious cases (particularly those demonstrating
allegations of serious malpractice or dishonesty), the review may be referred to the state licensing board or disciplinary
panel of the provincial body for a full hearing.
As a licensed member of the veterinary medical assocaition, the veterinarian must co-operate with the investigation and provide
copies of all relevant documents necessary to conduct same. As well, the veterinarian has a professional obligation to respond
to inquiries made by the licensing body in a timely manner.
Rules of administrative fairness require the regulatory authority to provide full disclosure to the veterinarian under scrutiny
of all of the allegations and the evidence supporting the allegations, including any expert witness reports, well in advance
of a disciplinary hearing. In the event that the veterinarian wishes to contradict any evidence by way of his or her own expert's
report, then such report must be provided to the prosecution in advance of a hearing as well. The failure to provide full
and frank disclosure of all of the material evidence could lead to a dismissal of the case.