Sunday, February 24, 2008

When Vet Techs Take the Fall

When I requested disciplinary records from the State of Alaska for 2005, I received two disciplinary records for veterinary technicians. Because of my own personal interest in issues surrounding veterinary technicians, one of these caught my attention.

The Alaska Veterinary Board memorandum of agreement with the veterinary technician, Cyd Hanns, stated that "Hanns admits to the following facts: . . . During the time that Hanns was employed with the Health Department, Hanns euthanized animals without veterinary supervision, diagnosed the medical condition of animals without veterinary supervision, and administered or dispensed prescribed drugs to animals without veterinary supervision . . . Hanns activities as a Veterinary Technician . . . were beyond the scope of her licensed practice."

Yes, I know -- this blog is about BAD VETS, not bad vet techs -- but my inclusion of this record is very intentional.

What is very interesting about this Board action against a vet tech is that it is NOT accompanied by a disciplinary action against the vets that were presumably responsible for Hanns' supervision, and who should be held responsible for technicians or assistants who do things that are legally outside the boundaries of what they should be doing. It is not safe to have unqualified staff performing medicial duties such as those described here. It is fine to hold the vet tech responsible for practising outside his/her permitted scope, but what about the vet?

After all, the vets are the ones who are RESPONSIBLE to assign duties to staff and SUPERVISE to ensure that duties performed are in accordance with appropriate roles and training, and that they are performed correctly.

Does the Board really believe -- and expect us to believe -- that the vets who SHOULD have been supervising Hanns weren't tasking Hann's with some of these out-of-scope duties, or didn't know that Hanns was doing them? I certainly don't believe that. But even if they didn't know, THEY SHOULD HAVE.

Why no disciplinary action against those BAD VETS?

Guess it's just easier to let the vet tech take the fall alone.