The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Disciplinary Committee has suspended Dr Michael Richard Jones from the register for two months, for making “dishonest entries” in horse passports and subsequently making “dishonest entries” in the same horses’ clinical records.
The first and second charges were on 21 March 2018, Dr Jones made signed entries in the passports and made corresponding entries in clinical records of four horses indicating that he had administered an influenza vaccination booster to each horse on 15 March 2018 and in relation to another horse a tetanus booster, when in fact he had administered the vaccination boosters on 21 March 2018.
In relation to each entry, his conduct was judged to be “misleading, dishonest and undermined the integrity” of a vaccination process designed to promote animal welfare.
The third charge was that, on or around 21 March 2018, Dr Jones failed to make any entries in the clinical records for a horse in relation to an examination on 21 March 2018.
At the outset of the hearing the RCVS said Dr Jones admitted the facts in the first and second charges, and accepted that his actions were misleading, dishonest and that they undermined the integrity of a vaccination process which was designed to promote animal welfare.
Dr Jones disputed certain aspects of the written statements of the College’s witnesses. In particular he wanted his conduct to be taken in the context of the pressures that he was working under on that day, primarily that he was in a stressed state having had to euthanise a valuable stallion at the conclusion of his previous client appointment.
The committee heard evidence from the horse’s owner who said they were present during the examination taking place and the committee was satisfied that the respondent did examine the horse on 21 March 2018 and that he had a duty to make a brief clinical note on the examination. As Dr Jones admitted that he made no such note, it found the charge to have been proven to the requisite standard.
The committee accepted that the respondent simply forgot that he had examined the horse and, therefore, the committee was not satisfied that the failure to compile a record entry covering the horse’s examination constituted serious professional misconduct. The committee therefore decided that suspending Dr Jones from the register for two months would be the most appropriate sanction.
Ian Green, who chaired the committee and spoke on its behalf, said: “The committee’s decision on sanction has been based on an acceptance that the respondent’s conduct on this occasion was out-of-character, as the evidence of his character witnesses and the contents of the letters submitted in his support by his clients and other veterinary colleagues assert. The committee also accepts that the respondent self-reported himself to his employer and to the college and has made a full and frank admission of his wrongdoing.”