Saturday, May 17, 2008

Vets on Meth, or What do we Do with the Drunken and/or Drugged Out Veterinarian, Installment #4

How do you like your vets?

Perhaps hopped up on methamphetamine and cocaine?

And if your vet is driving recklessly, how can he or she be yielding a scalpel with precision? NOT!

Perhaps these are questions the clients of California Veterinarian Carla Johnson should ask themselves.

In June 2006, vetrinarian Carla Johnson (of San Jose, California) signed a settlement document in which she admitted to a list of charges filed against her by the California Veterinary Board.

In 1991, Johnson was convicted "by a plea of nolo contendere" of "dry" reckless driving. As a result of that conviction, she was sentenced to a day in jail and fined $1,350. She was also placed on three years probation.

Yet, in 1996, Johnson "submitted an application, signed under penalty of perjury, for licensure to the Board of Veterinary Medicine. In that application, [Johnson] answered "no" to question 9 which asks if the applicant had 'ever pled nolo contendre or been convicted of either a felony or misdemeanor other than a minor traffic violation,"' whereas in truth and in fact she had been convicted of the criminal offenses alleged . . . above."

But Johnson didn't stop at one reckless driving conviction. In 1998, she was convicted "by nolo contendere plea . .. of . . . wet reckless driving . . . a misdemeanor. Johnson was sentenced to 2 years probation, and ordered to pay a fine of $594 and court costs of $100. (I guess there is some special logic going on in California where severity of fines and punishment goes down with each repeat offense.)

Again in 2001, Johnson submitted an application for license renewal on which she stated, under penalty of perjury, that she "had not 'been convicted of a felony offense or pled nolo contendere, in California . . . within the last five years', whereas in truth and in fact she had suffered a 1998 conviction."

That is the Vet Board's language. "Suffered a conviction." As though it were some passive act in which Johnson was the victim. But I have a idea that even if her traffic arrests didn't result in injuries to human victims, there may have been other victims, whose names are not in these "Findings of Fact."

The document goes on to say: "On or about December 27, 2003, while working as a veterinarian at United Emergency Animal Clinic in Campbell, California, [Johnson] was ordered by United's office administrator at the time, to undergo a drug test pursuant to the clinic's policy based on perceived erratic behavior. The lab test results reported by MedTox Laboratories, Inc., dated January 4, 2004, indicated that [Johnson] had tested positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine metabolite."

First, let me give sincere and grateful credit to the administrator of United Emergency Animal Clinic, who picked up on Johnson's erratic behavior, had her drug tested -- and presumably, although this is not stated -- took some action as a result of it. It seems that United's administrator recognized that Johnson's drugged up state caused her to be a threat to her patients.

But how sincere is the California Vet Board about protecting veterinary patients?

In its decision, the Board cited three "causes" for discipline:

Criminal Convictions (her convictions for "dry" and "wet" reckless driving)
Unprofessional Conduct - Use of controlled substances
Fraud, Misrepresentation, Deception (for false statements on her license applications)

The California Veterinary Board "revoked" Johnson's license, but outrageously, as in most of their other "revocations" they immediately "stayed" the revocation -- which means that Johnson can keep right on practising without interruption. Instead they put her license on probation for 3 years. In fact, how's this for crazy: They actually ORDERED her to practice veterinary medicine in California a MINIMUM of 24 hours a week for 6 consecutive months. (???? The thinking being, time NOT spent practicing doesn't count toward probation. Wow, "You are a threat to pets, MAKE SURE YOU KEEP PRACTISING AT LEAST 24 HOURS A WEEK." That's my paraphrase and editorialization, by the way.)

Want more ridiculousness?

The terms of this "probation" require her to obey the laws and regulations, merely by affirmation, that is -- they say, "No, little girl, obey the laws from now on, OK?"

To really understand how ridiculous this probation term to obey laws or regulations she was breaking in the first place is, you have to read on. How is the Vet Board going to check and see if she is obeying laws and regulations?

They are going to require her to erport quarterly to the board, telling them whether or not she has been obeying the laws and regulations.

HA HA!!! This woman had been found by them to have made more than one false statement, and has been found to have committed FRAUD, DECEPTION, and MISREPRESENTATION -- but they are relying on her own report of whether or not she is obeying laws and regulations. (I say HA HA, but really its not funny, since lives of beloved furry beings are affected.)

Yes, the Board reserved the right to request an in-person report, but I doubt they ever do that.

Johnson was required to inform her employers.

Johnson was required to pay the Board for it's costs in investigating her, which were $5,295.76. But they allowed her to make these payments in 34 monthly installments of $155.76 each. (Gee, I wonder if she, as a vet, gave similarly generous payment plans to her clients?)

The Board did, at least, order her to undergo a drug test, and then to "provide documentary evidence of continuing satisfactory participation" in a drug/alcohol rehab program of her own choosing.

Oh, and they ordered her to stop taking drugs.

Wonder how that will work out?


California Vet Board Newsletter Announcing Disciplinary Actions, Including that Against Carla Johnson

Do you want to know where Johnson is currently practising?

Well, here is my disclaimer: It is possible, I suppose, for two vets to practice in the same geographic area and have the same name. So, this may or may not be her, but a "Carla Johnson" is listed on the website of Pacific Veterinary Specialists Emergency Service.

Supposedly, she handles emergencies.