Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Colorado Vet Debra Megonigle Sends "Technician" (?) to Treat Horse; Technician Pours Mineral Oil Into Horses Lungs and Kills It.

In this rare case that actually resulted in discipline, the following story is told in the public record documents of the Colorado Vet Board:

"[Debra Megonigle] was the registered agent of Animal Emergency Room and Medical Center, Inc., located in Pueblo, Colorado, on or about May 31 and June 1, 1999.

". . . the Animal Emergency Room and Medical Center, Inc., was contacted about a gelding horse suffering from colic. The horse and horse's owner were from California and were attending an AQHA horse show at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo."

"[Debra Megonigle] sent Mr. "KC" (Casey) Cooper, a veterinary technician employed by Emergency Room and Medical Center, to treat the horse. Cooper administered mineral oil via a naso-gastric tube. Cooper also injected the horse with Bentamine."

"The horse ultimately died as a result of having mineral oil inserted into its lungs."

"At no time during Cooper's care of the horse was a veterinarian on premises or available to supervise his care of the horse."

"On or about June 18, 1999, [Debra Megonigle] completed a form supplied by Equine Insurance Claims Services, Inc. The form related to Cooper's treatment of the horse on May 31, 1999. In the space listing veterinarian, [Debra Megonigle] crossed out "Casey Cooper, DVM" and inserted "Debra Megonigle, DVM."

[NOTE TO READERS: Serious questions are raised by this passage.

Were the horse's owners led to believe that Cooper was a veterinarian? (This would explain why their insurance company's form would list him that way.)

Was Cooper even a licensed technician? (I doubt it, since it seems to me the document from the veterinary board would specify so if that were the case.)

In making this change, was Megonigle trying to mislead anyone into believing that she had actually been present when the incident occured?

The document continues . . . ]

"The above-described conduct constitutes violations of the Colorado Veterinary Practice Act . . . "

They go on to cite five violations of the act including sections pertaining to:

"Fraud, deception, misrepresentation, or dishonest or illegal practices in or connected with the practice of veterinary medicine" . .. .

"Incompetence, negligence, or other malpractice in the practice of veterinary medicine . . . "

"Unprofessional or unethical conduct . . . "

"An act or omission which fails to meet generally accepted standards of veterinary practice . . . "

As a result of these cited violations, the board suspended Megonigle's license for a month, placed her on probation for a year, and fined her $5,000 ($1,000 for each of 5 violations).

Although you might not think this is enough, it's more than boards usually do. I must ask however:

If the same thing had been done but the patient were a cat or dog, rather than a horse whose owners had equine insurance and were in town to attend an American Quarterhorse show, would the action have been as strong?

Can you even imagine the suffering that this horse must have gone through?

Public Record Document taken from the website of the Colorado Veterinary Board:


Dr. Megonigle never paid the Colorado Veterinary Board the $5,000 fine. In April, 2001, the Board sent her a letter regarding her non-payment. Later that year, without ever having paid any portion of the $5,000 fine, Debra Megonigle declared bankruptcy in Texas, and all of her debts were discharged on December 13, 2001. The Colorado Board informed her that this penalty was not dischargable in bankruptcy, but she still didn't pay it, and so faced with revocation of her license Megonigle surrendered her license in Colorado and is now practising in TEXAS.

Web searches on Dr. Megonigle seem to indicate that she was working at Island Animal Clinic in Port Aransas Texas in mid 2009.