The RCVS’ disciplinary committee (DC) has dismissed a case against a Kent vet, having found him not guilty of serious professional misconduct. 

The RCVS’ disciplinary committee (DC) has dismissed a case against a Kent vet, having found him not guilty of serious professional misconduct. 

gavelFrancois-Guillame Saulnier-Troff – formerly an employee of North Kent Referrals in Blue Bell Hill near Aylesford – was charged with concealing from his clients that a metal fragment had been left in their dog’s body following surgery, and omitting any reference to that in the clinical records or notes.

At the hearing, the DC heard that during spinal surgery on a Jack Russell terrier in January, a small metal fragment broke off a palpator and became lodged in the bony material. Mr Saulnier-Troff was unable to retrieve it. 

However, he did not inform the dog’s owners of this occurrence, either during a telephone conversation immediately following the operation, or when he met with them for Pippin’s post-operative check in February.

Mr Saulnier-Troff said he had intended to discuss the fact with the owners when the dog was discharged and had requested that he be contacted when the owners came into the surgery. However, the DC hearing was told that he had not been contacted. On attending the practice two days later, he found the terrier had already been returned to his owners.

The DC accepted that Mr Saulnier-Troff had not considered the fragment to be clinically significant, and that telling the owners about it was not at the front of his mind at their subsequent meeting.

The committee heard there was no reference to the fragment included in the clinical notes, discharge summary or referral report. But it accepted that the discharge summary had not been prepared by Mr Saulnier-Troff, and that the referral report had been drawn up and sent out without his approval or personal signature.

In its findings, the DC made no criticism of Mr Saulnier-Troff for the breakage or non-retrieval of the fragment, concluding that he came across as a skilled and conscientious veterinary surgeon and that he was fundamentally honest. 

The committee also described the accounts given by the owners, and their recollection of events, as “honest and straightforwards throughout”. The DC noted that Mr Saulnier-Troff had admitted he ought to have told the owners about the fragment, and that he ought to have included details in the clinical notes.

DC chairman Alison Bruce said the committee was “highly critical of the fact that Mr Saulner-Troff did not inform [the owners] at any time of what had occurred or check that the clinical records had been completed either postoperatively or at the follow-up examination”.

She said: “The matters, which Mr Saulnier-Troff has admitted, flow from a failure on his part to speak to [the owners] after the discharge had taken place and to check that he had completed a full clinical record that included reference to part of the palpator being left in [the dog’s] body.”

Mrs Bruce explained that although the conduct “falls short of the standard to be expected”, the committee ruled that “his conduct does not fall so far short that it amounts to disgraceful conduct in a professional respect”.

She concluded: “In these circumstances, the charge is dismissed.”

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