Veterinary attorneys looking at case

Reducing Your Risk of a Veterinary Malpractice Lawsuit

Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of litigation as a veterinary practice owner, there are several steps you can take to drastically reduce the risk of getting sued. Specifically, there are actions you can take before, during, and aftercare that can help you avoid becoming involved in lengthy legal proceedings. In this article, we discuss how to reduce your risk of a veterinary malpractice lawsuit.   

Before Providing Care

Before providing care to an animal, doing the following can reduce your risk of being faced with a malpractice lawsuit: 

Educate pet owners: You should always take the time to educate customers on the care of their pets. For example, prior to beginning treatment, you should explain the diagnosis, options for treatment, potential risks, and cost.

Never guarantee a result: Never guarantee a particular outcome when treating an animal. Rather, you should always be realistic and honest with customers about the potential outcomes of a treatment. 

Secure consent: Before treating an animal, you should obtain the written consent of the owner. 

Review the animal’s care history: If a customer’s pet has received treatment in the past from another practice, you should request the animal’s record. After receiving the record, you should review it carefully.

Don’t take on more than you can handle: Finally, if you lack the experience or equipment to perform a particular procedure, don’t do it. Instead, refer the patient to another veterinarian who has the capability to perform the procedure. 

During Care

To avoid being sued for malpractice during treatment, you should consider doing the following:

Keep detailed records: You should always keep detailed records of an animal’s treatment and be sure to note any problems encountered or departures from standard protocols.

Keep your customers updated: During the course of treatment, you should provide your customers with continuous updates. 

Adhere to identification standards: By strictly adhering to identification standards, you avoid operating on the wrong pet or body part.

After Providing Care

Finally, actions you can take to avoid being sued for malpractice after treating an animal include: 

Recommend a necropsy following a death: If an animal dies on your watch, you should recommend a necropsy to determine the cause of death. 

Always give full disclosure: Even is you encounter a problem during treatment, you should always be open and honest when discussing the issue with a pet’s owner.

Maintain your records: Finally, you should maintain each animal’s record even after treatment. And if a customer requests records, provide copies and maintain the originals. 

Contact Our Experienced Veterinary Lawyers 

At Mahan Law, our veterinary lawyer helps veterinarians address challenges that are unique to the veterinary industry. Regardless of the unique needs of your practice, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to help. At Mahan Law, we understand the veterinary industry, and we can help you avoid, prepare for, and address litigation threats. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced veterinary attorneys.