Complaints Investigation Outcomes

A selection of complaints assessment outcomes are listed below. Names and identifying details have been removed.
Following are a summary of cases from 2016 and 2017.

  • CAC17-08 and CAC17-09
    This complaint relates to the actions of two vets when the complainants' dog was struggling to deliver her puppies.
    The first vet saw the dog after hours but no action was taken at that time. The owner considered an emergency caesarean should have been done and that the vet lied about how dilated the dog was. There were no independent witnesses and this was essentially a 'he said–she said' situation. The CAC reached its decision based on clinical reasoning and the information available. The CAC found no evidence to suggest the veterinarian lied or that there were any indications that a caesarean should have been performed.
    Read the full decision
    The second vet performed a caesarean the next day. Five of the nine puppies died. The CAC determined that the vet's actions or decisions did not contribute to the death of the puppies. However it made some suggestions in relation to the veterinarian's communication with the clients.
    Read the full decision.
  • CAC16-42 and CAC16-43
    The complainant's dog died at an after hours clinic after suffering from pancreatitis. The complainant raised concerns about two vets involved in the dog's care. The CAC found that both vets acted appropriately in their treatment of the dog. The dog was adequately assessed, diagnosed and treated, and there was nothing that could be done to save him given the severity of the complications of pancreatitis.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-37
    We received this complaint about a New Zealand trained and registered vet who is practising overseas. The CAC did not investigate because the complaint related to a matter that occurred overseas, in a country where there is a regulatory body that is willing and able to deal with the complaint.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-31, 16-32, and 16-33
    The complainant had dental procedures performed on three of her dogs. One of the dogs died under anaesthetic. As well as expressing concerning about the reasons for the dog's death, the complainant also raised concerns about the veterinarians' record keeping. The CAC agreed that the clinical records lacked detail, and made a number of recommendations around clinic procedures.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-30
    The director of an after hours clinic raised concerns about how a vet interacted with a client, and whether this may have breached the Code of Professional Conduct. The Code requires vets to 'treat colleagues with professionalism and respect; not making malicious or unfounded criticisms that may undermine the public's trust or bring discredit to the profession.'
    When the CAC interviewed the client, she said her trust and confidence wasn't undermined, and she was grateful to both clinics. This satisfied the CAC that there was no breach of the Code. It recommended that the vet consider how her conversations with clients could be perceived by other vets.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-26
    The complainant said the vet failed to provide adequate treatment and follow up when she contacted him after hours. She said the vet didn't recognise that her dog was dying, or offer further support locally, so her dog suffered for 6 hours until she found another clinic.
    The CAC found that the after hours service provided met expectations.
    The CAC sought specialist comment on the dog's treatment. The specialist was concerned that a number of veterinarians involved in this case did not demonstrate an adequate knowledge of Addison's disease and the risk of this in animals being treated with trilostane. While the CAC didn't find this acceptable, it noted that the vet responded to a difficult situation in the same way that many of his colleagues would.
    The CAC considered that this is an area where prevailing standards need to be raised. We're preparing some advice on this.
    The CAC noted that the vet didn't have access to the dog's clinical history after hours. Access to notes can be a valuable resource for vets. If you expect that a client may need after hours care, it can be helpful to share the notes in advance.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-25
    The complainant raised concerns about the veterinarian's manner and behaviour following her request to have her 8 month old dog euthanised.
    The CAC identified concerns about the veterinarian's admitted conduct and recommended that he review the appropriate sections of the Code and seek guidance with regard to effective communication strategies in stressful situations.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-22 and CAC16-23
    A vet (Dr C) was asked to give a second opinion on a diagnosis. The complainant was concerned that the vet gave an opinion without viewing the relevant radiographs. This was later found not to be the case, but the complainant remained concerned about the diagnosis and how long it took to respond to her concerns. Dr C and the director of the practice (Dr A) visited the complainant at her home to try to resolve the matter. The complainant felt that it was rude and unprofessional of them to visit her without warning, and was concerned that Dr A's behaviour was unprofessional and, at times, aggressive.
    The CAC felt that it was inappropriate for a vet to turn up to discuss client concerns unannounced. Meetings with clients should be with the consent of the client, documented in that client's file, and arranged in advance. There wasn't sufficient evidence to support allegations of threatening or intimidating behaviour from Dr A. The CAC was satisfied with Dr C's diagnosis, but reminded her she's expected to record her findings and advice given in the patient's clinical notes. The CAC noted that better communication between the practice and the complainant might have avoided this complaint.
    Click here for the full decisions in CAC16-22 and CAC16-23.
  • CAC16-20
    Three veterinarians raised concerns about their former employer (also a vet). Two of the complainants were recent graduates and one was newly registered in New Zealand.
    The CAC considered that some of the issues raised (eg employment disputes) were outside its scope and best addressed elsewhere.
    It reviewed the complainants' concerns about their employer's lack of support for new graduates, disparaging other veterinarians, unethical practice, compromising animal welfare, and bullying and manipulation.
    The CAC noted the negative impact on both the complainants and the vet complained about. The first few years in practice are vitally important in the development of a new vet's confidence and technical abilities. No formal action was taken against the vet, but the CAC reminded her to review the Code requirements around support of newly registered vets. It also strongly recommended that when recruiting a recent graduate, she document the level of support and training to be provided and ensure this is mutually understood.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-17
    A cat owner complained about the practice principal (who is also the clinic manager) because she was refused her cat's ashes until her account had been paid in full.
    The CAC noted that this business practice is followed by many vet clinics. It suggested that the clinic clearly displays and communicates its policies about payment, and consider the impact a client's distress may have on their ability to take in information.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-16
    The complainant's cat had a dental procedure. The cat seemed unwell afterwards and later died under the care of another vet. The owner said the cat wasn't provided with appropriate care and the vet didn't give him answers about what happened. He also complained that the vet did not give him his cat's clinical records when he requested them.
    The vet took all reasonable and generally accepted measures to identify and manage risk factors. The CAC didn't consider that any mistreatment occurred. The CAC suggested the vet review the Code's requirements around provision of client notes and suggested he make sure anaesthetic record sheets contain enough information, even with minor procedures.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-15
    A notification from Medicines Control at the Ministry of Health raised potential concerns about the appropriateness of a vet's prescribing. It appeared the vet may have written generic prescriptions (ie not for a specific animal) to obtain prescription medicines to hold in anticipation of use. There were also prescriptions for personal use.
    The CAC closed this case with an educative outcome for the vet.
      • Vets can't prescribe for human use, including personal use
      • Vets can write prescriptions for a prescription medicine for a specific animal and have these filled at a pharmacy
      • Vets can purchase prescription medicines from a wholesaler to hold in anticipation of use but can't write a generic prescription to obtain prescription medicines at a pharmacy to hold in anticipation of use.
    For more information see the NZVA Guide to Veterinary Authorising (Prescribing) and Dispensing and read the full decision here.
  • CAC16-14
    MPI notified Council of concerns about Fitness of Livestock for Transport declarations signed by a vet for three cows. One was shot on arrival at the meat processing works.
    Vets' role signing certificates of fitness to transport is viewed very seriously by MPI, the profession and the public. Vets who certify need to be familiar with and adhere to guidelines, to ensure that animal welfare is not compromised. This case closed with an educative outcome for the vet.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-11
    The vet diagnosed the complainant's dog with Shar Pei fever. She was concerned about the severity of the dog's condition and recommended ongoing intensive treatment, best given with the dog as an inpatient. The owner did not want to leave the dog and did not agree with the vet's diagnosis. The vet was concerned that, despite her attempts, the owner may not access appropriate care for the dog and so contacted the SPCA.
    The CAC considered that the vet's response and clinical records indicated that she provided a good standard of care and that her actions in referring the case to the SPCA were appropriate (and fulfilled the obligation vets have under the Animal Welfare Act and the Code of Professional Conduct).
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-10
    The complainant said the vet's clinic breached her privacy by releasing the notes of a kitten to its new owner's vet 'without [her] knowledge or consent'. The information that was sent related to the wrong kitten.
    The CAC suggested that the clinic produce a policy on the release of client details and records. This should include checking that the veterinary practice requesting the records has the client's permission. If there is any doubt about what information is to be released, a copy should be given to the client to check.
    Click here for the full decision.
  • CAC16-02 and CAC16-03
    Two vets treated the complainant's chicken. The chicken was found to have excess fluid in the coelom due to a severe coelomitis.
    The first vet (CAC16-02) treated the chicken for a week before the complainant requested that someone else take over its care. The complainant was reluctant to accept the diagnosis and considered that the vet's treatment made the chicken worse. She reported that the vet did not seek her consent before treating the chicken, was 'without mercy and compassion', did not prescribe any medication for the chicken, and 'guessed' when it came to making a diagnosis.
    The second vet (CAC16-03) took over the care of the chicken after one week. The chicken was admitted for treatment but deteriorated and died. The owner complained that the vet gave her unrealistic expectations for the chicken's survival, 'guessed' when it came to making a diagnosis and was 'without pity'.
    The CAC noted that the chicken was very ill and considered that the vets provided appropriate treatment. The CAC considered that it appeared that the client didn't fully understand the seriousness of the situation, implications of the diagnosis, or the reasons for the recommended treatment.
    Click for the full decisions in CAC16-02 and CAC16-03.

For details of outcomes from previous years: