NOTIFICATIONS ABOUT VETERINARY SURGEONS
The Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia administers the Veterinary Practice Act 2003 and the Veterinary Practice Regulations 2005 (the Act). One of the roles of the Board is to regulate the professional conduct of veterinary surgeons, in order to maintain a high standard of service for the community.
If you wish to notify the Registrar of any matter of concern regarding the conduct of a veterinary surgeon, please complete the form provided and set out the relevant facts in chronological order. If you were not the person presenting the animal to the veterinary surgeon, please provide the name and address of that person. If possible, please include a signed statement by the person who dealt with the veterinary surgeon.
The steps involved in processing and investigating a notification are as follows:
1. The Registrar will receive your notification and consider its level of seriousness.
2. The Registrar will confirm receipt of your notification in writing.
3. The veterinary surgeon will be sent a copy of your completed notification form and will be asked to respond to the issues arising from it. If other veterinary surgeons are involved in the matter, the Registrar will request a report from those veterinary surgeons. Copies of patient records, including X-rays and other material, will be requested.
4. In some circumstances, a copy of the veterinary surgeon’s response will be provided to you. You may be invited to provide any further evidence and state where you disagree with the facts presented.
5. The Registrar will present your notification to the Board’s Notifications Committee. The committee will consider all the information and provide advice to the Registrar.
6. If the Registrar determines that the matter constitutes proper cause for disciplinary action against the veterinary surgeon, the Registrar will lay a complaint before the Board alleging unprofessional conduct.
7. If the Registrar lays a formal complaint before the Board, you will be notified and may be asked to attend a hearing to give evidence. If the Board finds that the veterinary surgeon has engaged in unprofessional conduct, a range of sanctions may apply, from imposition of a fine to cancellation of registration.
Unprofessional conduct includes:
(a) improper or unethical conduct in relation to professional practice; and
(b) incompetence or negligence in relation to the provision of veterinary treatment; and
(c) contravention of or failure to comply with –
(i) a provision of the Act; or
(ii) a code of conduct or professional standards prepared or endorsed by the Board under the Act; and
(d) conduct that constitutes an offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or more under some other Act or law.
8. If the Registrar determines not to lay a complaint before the Board, the Registrar will resolve the notification informally (for example by requiring the veterinary surgeon to undergo a counselling session or issuing a written warning). Alternatively, the Registrar may determine that there is no proper basis on which to take any action against the veterinary surgeon.
The notification assessment process can take some time for the following reasons:
1. The Board's Notifications Committee members undertake this work on a part-time sessional basis and meet periodically (approximately 6 times per year);
2. Parties must be given adequate time to consider and respond to a notification and requests for information from the Registrar;
3. Parties may wish to consult with others (eg their professional indemnity insurer/lawyer);
4. The Notifications Committee and the Registrar may wish to meet with the parties for some discussion; and
5. Other information (including expert opinions) may need to be sought.
Please note that the Board has no power under the Act to deal with notifications relating to fees, and is not able to order veterinary surgeons to pay compensation.