James Island animal doc Thomas Sheridan is back in the press, this time in a story from DVM magazine, a vet industry publication that looks at South Carolina's recent decision to release the details on vet complaints prior to actual hearings. Sheridan has been dogged by accusations of bad medicine and lost his job at the South Carolina Aquarium this past spring when the facility decided to hire a full-time vet. The new DVM story really doesn't get into more details on Sheridan's story, but notes the information on complaints is now more easily accessible to the public, thanks to the state's Vet Board.
"From the veterinary perspective, if the complaint is not made public, it protects them in the event that there is a frivolous complaint filed or one deemed to be without merit that does not need further investigation," Atkinson says. "The negative aspects of releasing the information would be the disclosure or exposure of a complaint. Then, perhaps, the media will write about it, and the veterinarian has to defend himself or herself, yet we don't necessarily have a final disposition of wrongdoing."
But should state boards be concerned about protecting veterinarians, or their animal patients?
Unless complaints are made readily available to the public from the time they are filed, pet owners may have no way of knowing they exist. "If there are pending complaints against a veterinarian, I as a consumer want to know, even if they are not public at that point," Atkinson says.