Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Robert Hewitt, South Carolina: Just a Record-Keeping Violation? Or something more. . . .

As I have mentioned previously here, often times veterinary boards choose to find veterinarians in violation of record-keeping statutes, when -- by reading the facts of the case in the document -- one is left to wonder if more serious things may not have occurred. This is the case with South Carolina Vet Robert Hewitt, of Hewitt Animal Hospital in Florence, South Carolina.

In 2004, the South Carolina Vet Board issued Findings which included the following:

"A canine by the name of Nikki was presented . . . [to Hewitt] . . . for treatment . . . [Hewitt] recommended and performed surgery on the animal, removing a splenic mass." Nikki was discharged later that day and her owner was told to come back the next day for IV fluids. "When the owner returned one or two days later, another veterinarian . . . [said that Nikki] did not require fluids at that time. The owner of the animal testified that the animal's condition worsened, and after not being able to contact [Hewitt] she took [Nikki] to the veterinarian who was providing weekend coverage for [Hewitt]. It was recommended by this veterinarian that [Nikki] remain at his clinic overnight and when the owner returned the following day to retrieve [Nikki], [Nikki] died shortly after after the owner arrived."

"The State alleges that [Hewitt] recommended and performed surgery on [Nikki] without first performing an adequate pre-surgical examination. Additionally, the State alleges that [Hewitt] failed to record in the patient's records some of the procedures that were performed, and failed to provide the animal with adequate post-surgical care. To substantiate the allegations, the State presented testimony from several witnesses, including an expert in the area of small animal veterinary medicine . . . the State's expert also opined that [Hewitt] failed to perform an adequate pre-operative evaluation of [Nikki], and that this failure fell below the standard of care." The document goes on to say that Hewitt asserted that he did perform a pre-operative exam, but just didn't record it in the records.


As a result of these assertions on the part of Hewitt, the Board did not find that he failed to perform an adequate pre-surgical exam. They said: ". . . the Board is concerned about the post-surgical care provided by [Hewitt]. However, the Board does not believe that any post-surgical negligence by [Hewitt] rises to the level where discipline is warranted."

They found him in violation of record-keeping only.

They gave him a penalty of $200 and required him to pay investigative costs of $1,000.

Interesting, the State fails to agree with its own experts.


South Carolina Board Order in the Case of Robert Hewitt