Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Enough to Know you Don't Want to Go There: Larry Britt, Florida, Allegedly Lets Patient Bleed to Death

UPDATE: After writing this post I did more research on the subject, Larry Britt. It seems that Dr. Britt has a very disturbing prior history before this most recent disciplinary action by the Board. In 2008, according to press articles, Britt was arrested on two felony charges, one for filing a fraudulent insurance claim and the other for alleged theft of a show horse named "Bellagio." Press accounts of this can be found here. I find it particularly ironic that Britt, who appears to be still affiliated with "Roadrunner Vet Clinic", markets himself as an equine dentist. The veterinary industry -- its boards and associations - have been going after unlicensed but traditionally trained equine "tooth floaters" for years, claiming that only licensed vets like Britt should be able to provide any kind of dental care to horses. They claim their attempts to stop the "tooth floaters" are all about patient safety. I, and most other consumers I know, believe it is about money -- protecting the source of income. And here is a licensed vet, Larry Britt, engaging in an apparent pattern of clearly unethical and even dangerous behavior. But he's stil a licensed vet. BEWARE!

The Florida Veterinary Board, while it is responsive to public records requests for disciplinary records, don't appear to make these records available online. You can see if a vet has a record, but you can't get the details by using their license verification feature.

However some information is included in their Board minutes, albeit not the details. In some cases you really can't tell what happened, and in other cases what appears in the minutes is JUST ENOUGH for you to know to stay away. I believe any loving Florida owner would want to steer clear of Larry Britt, DVM in Plant City Florida after reading the minutes of the December 2010 Florida vet board meeting.

These minutes state:

" . . . the administrative complaint alleges that the Respondent falsified records and allowed one of his patients to bleed to death. Ms. Duffy [investigator] advised the board that the department recommended a five thousand dollar ($5,000.00) fine, eight hundred and three dollars and twenty three cents ($803.23) in costs, three (3) years probation, ten (10) hours of continuing education in ethics and retake the Florida laws and rules exam."

"After discussion by the board the following motions was made.

MOTION: Dr. O’Neil made a motion to accept the settlement stipulation as presented.
SECOND: Dr. Figarola seconded the motion.
Dr. O’Neil withdrew his motion.
MOTION: Dr. Maxwell made a motion to reject the settlement stipulation.
SECOND: Dr. Simmons seconded the motion and the motion passed unanimously.
MOTION: Dr. Maxwell made a motion to offer a counter stipulation of a five thousand dollar ($5,000.00) fine, eight hundred and three dollars and twenty three cents ($803.23) in costs, three (3) years probation with an annual appearance and one at the end of probation, twenty (20) hours of continuing education ten (10) hours in ethics and ten (10) hours in Equine surgery and retake the Florida laws and rules exam."

This motion was passed.

So, I gather from the information in the minutes that the patient, or a patient, involved in the complaint was a horse, and that the horse bled to death, with Britt being accused of both falsifying records and allowing aforesaid patient to bleed to death.

After surgery, I presume. (Given the requirement to take continuing education in equine surgery).

Florida doesn't make it easy to find this information, at least not by vet name in a lookup on their site. It makes me wonder if they are trying to protect vets like this - trying to withhold information by hiding it in plain site, depriving clients from important facts they need to determine what vets they do, and do not, want to see.

I hope that Florida changes their license lookup feature to allow full access to all of the facts and allegations of the case, because this is very important for a consumer to make informed choices.

In the meantime, I wouldn't be taking my animals to Britt. Would you?

Links: Minutes from Florida Vet Board's December 2010 meeting

NOTE: According to the Annual Report of Florida's Department of Business and Professional Licensing, the Florida Veterinary Board received 599 complains in FY 2009-2010, but took only 38 disciplinary actions in that time period. That is a rate of 6 actions per 100 complaints, or 6%. That number is abysmal enough, but when you consider that some of the disciplinary actions taken may not have been in response to complaints, but may instead have resulted from inspection findings or CE violations, you realize the number is likely worse.

This means that if you file a complaint with the Florida Veterinary Board, there is a 94% chance of the board taken no disciplinary action.

Link to Annual Report