Thursday, March 27, 2008

Virginia's Dr. Thomas Kawasaki: A Long Record

Veterinary Boards -- including Virginia -- dismiss the vast majority of complaints they receive. In Virginia, in 2005, only 26% of complaints resulted in discipline.

So, it is the rare and unusual veterinarian who amasses a disciplinary history with a many entries as Virginia's Thomas Kawasaki. This record (available online at the Virginia Vet Board website) includes:

1988 -- Dr. Kawasaki is disciplined by the Board for allowing a person not licensed as a vet in the state of Virginia to perform surgery (spay) on a dog. Reprimand; $500 fine; order to cease and desist from allowing persons unlicensed in VA to perform duties requiring licensure.

1991 -- Dr. Kawasaki is disciplined for ordering surgery without doing pre-operative bloodwork or taking into account prior post-operative bloodwork (The document says that the dogs scrotal sacs were "infected as a result of suspected toxemia of the kidneys following a neutering procedure which had been performed a few weeks earlier. It doesn't say of Kawasaki performed the surgery that led to the kidney toxemia and thus infected scrotal sacs. Hmm . . .)

The vet board gave Kawasaki a reprimand only.

1993 -- Dr. Kawasaki removed a tumor during surgery from a dog named "Claudette" without verifying that it was the tumor that was supposed to be removed. In the same
case, the Board found that he failed to ensure adequate recordkeeping, and failed to keep adequate records regarding anesthetics or medication provided to the dog during surgery.

Again -- what did the Board do? Reprimand ONLY.

1997 (February) -- The Veterinary Board suspends Kawasaki's license as a result of an incident which involved his ingestion of drugs he had diverted (taken) from his Veterinary practice.

1997 (March) -- The Board reinstates Kawasaki's license and puts him on probation.

1999 -- The Board lifts the probation on Kawasaki's license.

2002 -- An inspection of Kawasaki's clinic reveals numerous problems including problems with the drug inventory, the controlled substances distribution log, presence of expired medications in working stock. Also the "surgery suite was not reserved for surgery only . . . the registration certificate for the x-ray machine was not available . . . autoclave packs did not always contain an internal monitor . . . "

Penalty of $250 and additional inspection.

What is of greatest concern to me in this vet's record is his 1991 and 1993 violations, which raise serious questions about his patient care. That combined with the inspection findings as well as the other violations I believe should cause great concern in the mind of anyone who is a current or potential future client of this vet.



As my readers have noticed, I long ago turned off "comments" for a variety of reasons, and any clarifications or additional information I post here is entirely voluntary on my part with respect to "blogged about" vets here. I will rarely do so, and this is one of those rare occasions.

Today I received a rather passionate and heartfelt defense of this vet from someone involved in ferret rescue in Virginia. In this communication, the writer extolled Kawasaki's work with/for ferrets, referring to him as "brilliant", "compassionate," and a "good vet" who is "human" and has made a "few mistakes" over his long career. This writer posited that if this vet were not in practice, the world would be a far worse place for ferrets and ferret rescue in particular.

Out of respect for the apparent sincerity of that testimonial, I print this here.

In spite of this rather compelling and apparently sincere appeal, however, I nonetheless believe that he and others should find cause for concern in this record. I repeat that there are few vets with more than a few violations in their history, although there are many with more shocking ones.

When do a "few mistakes" become a pattern? You need to answer that question for yourself.

You should read the disciplinary history of not only this vet, but any vet you are considering.