Sunday, March 23, 2008

What Do We Do with The Drugged Out (and Allegedly Negligent) Vet? Installment 1

This is the first drugged out vet we will talk about but it won't be the last. There are a lot of these . . . and this story shows that drug use by a veterinarian may not be a victimless crime -- because their drugged out state effects their ability to do their jobs and this of couse can endanger the life of pets.

This one is Todd Alan Cooney, DVM, of North East Animal Clinic in Kokomo, Indiana.

In March of 2005, the State of Indiana filed a complaint against Todd Cooney, citing the following facts:

"On or about January 31, 2005, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported to the Indiana Office of the Attorney General that [Cooney] had been under investigation for failure to comply with Federal Requirements pertaining to controlled substances. As a result, [Cooney] surrendered his DEA registration."

"On or about August 23rd, 2004, [Cooney] was found at his residence by family members unresponsive due to an intravenous overdose of Ketamine and was hospitalized. [Cooney's] family discovered used syringes and multiple vials of ketamine on the premises."

"[Cooney] entered the substance abuse treatment program at Rush in Chicago, Illinois in September 2004 . . . [Cooney]relapsed and began using ketamine and valium while working at his clinic shortly after his release from Rush . . . [Cooney] subsequently entered a substance abuse treatment program in New Mexico but failed to complete the program."

"[Cooney] has exhibited signs of being under the influence while on duty at his practice. Staff report [Cooney] has appeared slow, staggering, and confused while at work."

"On or about November 5, 2004, [Cooney] was scheduled to spay a dog and repair an umbilical hernia. [Cooney] performed surgery but noted only an umbilical hernia in the medical records. Subsequent lab tests and exploratory surgery revealed that [Cooney] failed to spay the animal."

"On or about January 11, 2005, Marion County Sherriff Deputies were called by [Cooney's] sister . . . who reported [Cooney] had physically assaulted her after she attempted to determine whether [Cooney] had any needles/syringes at her parents home. [His sister] was concerned that [Cooney] may have exposed her children to needles . . . "

"[Cooney] has admitted to the DEA that he has abused Ketamine . . . On or about February 8, 2005, the Office of the Attorney General received additional information from the DEA that the police had been called to [Cooney's] veterinary practice over an altercation between [Cooney] and other staff members."

The Board allowed Cooney to continue practising on probation. For one year, the terms of this probation included limiting his practice to work as a research and diagnostic parasitologist at Purdue University -- in other words, thankfully not working at a vet clinic. There were no fines, and at this time, Cooney would no longer be barred from working at a clinic.

In 2007, the Board decided that it would allow Cooney to reapply for his DEA licensed.

And, quite frighteningly, I found this website with a listing for a Kokomo, Indiana business("Noah's Ark Kennels and Grooming") declaring: "We are now a full veterinary clinic. Dr. Todd Cooney is back. $5.00 off grooming."

OK, you couldn't PAY me to take my pet there.

There is also a cryptic agenda item on the agenda of the Indiana Controlled Substances Advisory Committee for September 28, 2007 -- pretty recently. Under "Personal Appearances" this agenda lists Todd Cooney, DVM, and next to his name are the words "Positive Response." Does this mean he tested positive on a drug test?