RCVS find actions of vet “fell far short of expected standards” after he admitted not carrying out tuberculin tests on cattle in accordance with procedures required by the AHVLA.

The disciplinary committee of the RCVS has reprimanded a vet for submitting a certificate of clinical inspection for veterinary inspectors (“TB52”) for tuberculin tests he had undertaken on cattle, despite knowing he hadn’t fully complied with the standard operating procedures (SOP) for these tests.

At the outset of the three-day hearing (which concluded on February 27, 2013), John Wilson admitted that, when acting as an official veterinarian (OV), he had not carried out tuberculin tests on cattle at a Wiltshire farm on May 19, 2011 strictly in accordance with the SOP required by the AHVLA.

The admitted shortcomings were that on May 19, the second day of testing, Mr Wilson had:

  • failed to confirm the identity of all the animals
  • failed to inspect the animals digitally
  • not measured the fold of skin at the injection site of all the animals

The college argued this was contrary to the directions of the AHVLA and, in subsequently signing the TB52 certificate, he was either dishonest or should have known that the certification was incorrect.

Mr Wilson admitted he ought to have known the certification was incorrect, but denied dishonesty, because he believed he had conducted the test in a satisfactory manner and had correctly identified all the reactors in the herd.

A veterinary surgeon of more than 40 years’ experience, Mr Wilson had an unblemished record, and the committee found his account of events to be accurate and honest.

He said the farm involved was unprepared, and test arrangements were chaotic, with poor handling facilities, and he would have been concerned for the safety of the animals and their handlers if he had complied fully with the SOP.

He had advised the farmer to delay the test but his advice was rejected.

The committee accepted that the testing had been carried out under exceptional and difficult circumstances.

It noted Mr Wilson had identified a reactor and taken appropriate actions, knowing the outcome would be the quarantining of the whole herd.

He had made no financial or other gain, other than the nominal fee charged for the work.

Although failing to comply with the SOP fell short of what was expected of a veterinary surgeon, because of these circumstances, and as he had acted in what he considered to be the best interests of the animals and personnel, these actions did not amount to serious professional misconduct, the committee felt.

The committee found that, even allowing for these difficulties and concerns, in signing the TB52 certificate a few days later, without any qualification, Mr Wilson ought to have known it was incorrect, and his actions fell far short of the standards expected of the veterinary profession. It did not, however, find that he had been dishonest.

Chairman of the committee Peter Lees said: “The committee is aware, as confirmed by AHVLA, that this is a single, isolated event and the first offence in some 40 years of the respondent working as a LVI [local veterinary inspector] or OV.

“After considering all the mitigating factors and, given the exceptional circumstances of this specific case, the decision of the committee is to reprimand Mr Wilson.”

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