Monday, March 3, 2014

Breaking the Rules: Veterinarian Peter Rule's Plentiful Violatons of Veterinary Standards Bring Probation, but No Suspension, from Washington State

The Washington State Veterinary Board's Statement of Charges is chilling, detailing physical abuse of patients, drug diversion, not merely allowing but directing the practice of surgeries by an unlicensed assistant, surgical errors, and more.  These "alleged facts" (quoting the Agreed Order) include a description of how a patient died from blood loss after Rule "nicked" her spleen during a spay; another patient burned; yet another given way way way way too much fluid; another with a "nicked" urethra.  The owner of the dog whose ureter was "nicked" gave a heart-wrenching account of her experience in press reports. 

Here are the Findings of Fact from the agreed order from the Washington Veterinary Board on Peter Rule, DVM: 

"From on or about February of 2007 through July of 2008, at least five (5) members of Respondent's staff observed him diverting tramadol for his own use."  Rule admitted to this on camera in local press coverage of the case, a link to which is provided below. 

"From on or about April 2005 through on or about March 2008, at least three (3) employees observed respondent using unnecessary force, excessive physical restraint, and/or threatening conduct with patients."  This is further described in the Veterinary Board's statement of charges as follows:  

[Rule] was observed  "physically and psychologically abusing patients.  Specifically, [Rule]:

A.  Taunted patients by "getting in their faces" or growling at them;
B.  Slapped or punched their faces; 
C. Pulled their tails; and
D. Tightened his hand around the animal's neck until it lost consciousness."

From on or about April 2005 through on or about March 2008, and in August 2010, [Peter Rule, DVM] aided and abetted the unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine. Specifically [Peter Rule, DVM]:

A.  Allowed at least one (1) unlicensed assistant to perform the duties of a licensed veterinarian on at least five (5) occasions; 
B.  Verbally pressured an unlicensed assistant to perform spay and neuter surgery."

{Comment:  Spay surgery is major abdominal surgery.  One is left to wonder what the outcome of this surgery was -- an unlicensed assistant is not even a licensed veterinary technician, it would be like having an orderly do a hysterectomy.  How do you think that turned out? }

From on or about April 2005 through on or about February 2008, at least one (1) employee observed that [Rule] left the clinic on one or more occasions while patients were under sedation and recovering from surgery, even though no veterinarian or veterinary technician was on the premises." 

"From on or about April 2008 through on or about October 2008 [Peter Rule] provided veterinary services that did not meet the standard of care for the State of Washington.  Specifically: 

A.  On or about April 11, 2008, [Peter Rule, DVM] performed an ovario-hysterectomy on client A's dog Daisy. During the surgery [Peter Rule, DVM] nicked the dog's spleen and could not control the consequent bleeding; the patient bled to death."

B.  On or about May 16, 2008, [Peter Rule, DVM] performed an OVH on Client B's dog Sophie.  The dog was placed on a heating device by an employee of respondent's clinic, which burned the patient's skin." 

C.  "On or about October 28, 2008, [Peter Rule, DVM] performed a spay on Client C's cat Bella.  The treatment involved hydration.  An employee of Respondent's clinic over-hydrated the patient by administering fluids at the rate of 700 ml per hour."  Now, how bad is that?  Well, let's see.  According to AAHA itself, the appropriate fluid rate for a cat is 2-3 ml per kg per hour.  (See Fluid Therapy Guidelines, page 9).  A cat of 10 pounds is about 4.5 kg.  That equates to a fluid rate of 13.5 ml/hr.  That means the cat received fluids at a rate over 50 times that which it should have been!   The board document does not specify what happened to the cat in question, but without a doubt, this can cause life threatening complications such as pleural effusion.

D. On or about August 9, 2010, while performing neuter surgery on Client D and E's dog Trooper, Respondent [Peter Rule, DVM] nicked the patient's urethra."

Trooper's owner was interviewed on a local TV station about what happened to Trooper, saying she could hear her dog " . . .  yelling and writhing, just being really in great pain."

My experience with the Washington State Veterinary Board is that they are, like many Vet Boards, seemingly very reluctant to publicize or even release upon request disciplinary records.  Why would Rule be different?  Could it have anything to do with what Rule said when confronted with the Board's Statement of Charges?  

Rule said, on camera: "How dare they."  

Perhaps that's one of the only times a vet board actually does something about a vet who's practice is substandard -- when the vet himself thumbs his nose at the board. 

Industry Article on Rule Disciplinary Action

 "Vet to Keep His License After Animal Abuse, Stealing Pain Meds"

"The Veterinarian Who Seemed to Hate Animals"