Hampshire-based vets cleared of ‘serious professional misconduct’

A joint RCVS Disciplinary Committee hearing for two Hampshire-based vets has found both individuals to be not guilty of serious professional misconduct.

The hearing for Geoffrey William Irvine MRCVS and Igor Vasilev MRCVS took place from 14 to 22 October 2019, with one charge against each relating to the treatment of Rupert, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, in July 2017.

The specific parts of the charge against Mr Irvine were that, between 7 July and 27 July 2017, he “failed “to discuss with Rupert’s owners, alternative treatment options to dental surgery under general anaesthetic.

The RCVS said he also failed to discuss with the owners the risks of dental surgery under general anaesthetic and failed to obtain informed consent from the owners for this surgery.

Dr Vasilev was also originally charged with failing to discuss alternative treatment options, failing to discuss risks of the surgery and failing to obtain informed consent.

In considering the facts of the case against Mr Irvine and Dr Vasilev, the Committee heard the circumstances around Rupert’s treatment and death, including how his dental surgery under general anaesthetic was recommended by Irvine on 10 July and performed by Dr Vasilev on 11 July 2017.

After the surgery, Rupert was discharged, but vomited in his sleep that same night. He was brought back to the practice on 12 July, where Dr Vasilev administered antiemetic and antibiotic medication.

However, Rupert continued to vomit over the next five days, and was seen by the practice on 17 July and then on 18 July when blood tests were conducted. Rupert’s condition deteriorated as he continued to vomit and lose weight and he was brought back to the practice on 22 July where he was euthanased by Dr Vasilev.

In consideration of the facts of the charges, the Committee heard evidence from Rupert’s owners as well as two expert witnesses.

The Committee found the first aspect of the charge against Mr Irvine proven on the basis that there was an “inadequate” discussion with the owners regarding the option of delaying the dental treatment on Rupert because of his recent ascites caused by congestive heart failure.

The Committee found the second aspect of the charge against Irvine proven on the basis that he had not discussed the risks of Rupert undergoing general anaesthetic given the recent diagnosis of congestive heart failure, following which (in relation to the third aspect of the charge against Mr Irvine), it was therefore found proven that he had failed to gain informed consent.

Stuart Drummond, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee was not persuaded that the failure to obtain informed consent from [the owner] and discuss matters further with her on 10 July 2017 in the circumstances of this case would amount to serious professional misconduct which would bring the profession into disrepute.

“In the Committee’s judgment, the breach of standards, whilst amounting to professional misconduct, was not serious professional misconduct, in the context of other discussions which had taken place.”

He added: “The Committee further decided that a finding of serious professional misconduct in this case would be disproportionate having taken into consideration the discussions that Mr Irvine had with [the owner] prior to 10 July 2017 and the fact he was dealing with a complex and changing case.”

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