The RCVS disciplinary committee has suspended a Shropshire veterinary surgeon from the register for 10 weeks after he admitted being dishonest with a client and falsifying records about the treatment of her dog.

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Veterinary surgeon Dermot John Costelloe suspended from the register for falsifying records. Image ©Freeimages.com/Jason Morrison.

Charges

Dermot John Costelloe appeared before the disciplinary committee with four heads of charge against him, which were:

  1. On 31 October 2014, in a telephone call to his client Mrs Green, he dishonestly indicated that Scruffy, her border terrier/collie cross, was still alive, despite knowing the dog was dead and told her the practice had taken positive steps to treat and/or care for Scruffy throughout the previous night, despite knowing this was false.
  2. On 31 October 2014, during a meeting with Mrs Green, acted dishonestly by indicating the above account was correct and failing to inform her it was incorrect.
  3. On 19 November 2014, during another meeting with Mrs Green, once again acted dishonestly by indicating that the original false account was correct.
  4. Between 30 October and 4 December 2014, dishonestly created a hospitalisation record for Scruffy for 31 October 2014, which included records of observations and/or treatment and/or care that he knew had not been made or given and provided this false hospitalisation record to Mrs Green.

At the outset of the hearing, Mr Costelloe, a partner at a veterinary practice in Market Drayton, Shropshire, admitted all heads of charge against him.

Open and honest

The committee noted that, in his statement, Mr Costelloe gave a number of reasons for his conduct, including concerns over Mrs Green’s reaction to the death of her dog and the young vet on duty when Scruffy died. However, the committee considered the need to be open and honest with his clients should have been put above the needs of his practice.

In considering its sanction against Mr Costelloe, the committee heard mitigating evidence from four character witnesses called on his behalf, as well as a number of written testimonials, and also had regard to his evident remorse, shame and insight into his behaviour.

However, it also considered a number of aggravating factors, including the fact the misconduct had premeditated elements, was sustained over a period of weeks and constituted a clear breach of client trust.

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