Amanda S. Marshall Former U.S. Attorney (Local Counsel)
Lynette Byrd Former Assistant U.S. Attorney
Roger Bach Former Special Agent (OIG & DEA)
Joe Brown Former U.S. Attorney
Veterinarian Defense Lawyer
Veterinarians are an often-overlooked provider of healthcare services. While it may not be healthcare for human beings, veterinarians can still find themselves facing serious legal threats. While many of these are administrative and can only affect your professional license, others can impose civil liability or even the potential for criminal charges.
The veterinarian defense lawyers at Oberheiden P.C. are here to help protect you during these dangerous situations. Even if it is just your professional license at risk, losing it can end your career, cause substantial financial hardship, and keep you from doing what you love. When cases carry the potential for civil or criminal sanctions, though, it is even more important to get a skilled defense lawyer involved in your case.
Threats to Your Veterinarian’s License Can Imperil Your Career
The most common legal dangers that you can face as a veterinarian will implicate your professional license and your ability to work as a vet or stay open as an animal clinic. Given how tightly the veterinarian practice is regulated by state and federal law, these dangers are always present and require constant vigilance to ensure you remain on the right side of the law.
States have a wide variety of laws and regulations that require veterinarians and animal hospitals and clinics to get and maintain numerous certifications and licenses. These obligations are often imposed and enforced by state boards of medicine and health departments, and create a maze of requirements for veterinarians to meet. Just a few of these obligations include:
Educational requirements for veterinarians
Animal housing requirements
Compliance with a code of ethics and professionalism
For many veterinarians, particularly those who run their own clinic or animal hospital, it can take the legal advice and guidance of a veterinarian compliance attorney to make sure all of your legal obligations are being met.
Failing to do so can lead to an inspection uncovering your noncompliance, which can quickly escalate into a pressing threat to your license to continue operating.
Additionally, complaints by unhappy pet owners or allegations of malpractice can attract the scrutiny of compliance officials, leading to investigations and allegations of noncompliance that can threaten your profession or your business.
Put our highly experienced team on your side
Dr. Nick Oberheiden
John W. Sellers
Former Senior Trial Attorney U.S. Department of Justice
Joanne Fine DeLena
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney
Lynette S. Byrd
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney
Former U.S. Attorney
Aaron L. Wiley
Former Federal Prosecutor
Former Special Agent (OIG)
Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)
Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)
Kevin M. Sheridan
Former Special Agent (FBI)
Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)
Dennis A. Wichern
Former Special Agent-in-Charge (DEA)
Civil Liability Can Cripple Your Finances and Ruin Your Reputation
Worse, veterinarians can get sued for a wide variety of types of misconduct, many of them the result of mere negligence. Just a couple of scenarios that can lead to civil liability are:
Premises liability claims over injuries caused by animals on the property
You can be accused of committing veterinarian malpractice if the services that you provided for an animal fell below the acceptable standard of care. Many pet owners are extremely protective of their “fur babies” and are willing to take veterinarians to court if they think that the care that you provided was negligent. These accusations, even if they are groundless, can not only lead to a substantial judgment or settlement that can hurt your finances; it can also increase your insurance premiums in the future and create lots of extremely bad publicity that harms your reputation.
Two aspects of civil liability that many veterinarians forget about, though, are healthcare and insurance fraud. Many pet owners have insurance policies on their pets that cover their veterinarian appointments and the procedures that they need in order to stay healthy or recover from an injury. Veterinarians send the bill to these insurance companies, rather than take out-of-pocket payments from the pet owner. This means that veterinarian practices have to create an accurate and acceptable billing system that codes each procedure appropriately. Failing to have such a system in place, or not using it correctly, can lead to allegations by insurance companies that your practice is overbilling or committing some other form of insurance fraud.
These allegations can lead to lawsuits that demand recoupment of the alleged overcharges, and frequently lead to the insurer removing your veterinarian’s practice from their list of approved providers.
Criminal Cases Can Lead to Prison Time
Occasionally, veterinarians find themselves in extremely hot legal water, often over their allegedly criminal mishandling of the drugs that they have access to for their profession.
Veterinarians make wide use of certain controlled substances, such as ketamine. These are drugs that are regulated by state and federal law, most notably the Controlled Substances Act. People should only have access to these drugs if they have a prescription. For veterinarians, this means only prescribing or using these substances when an animal needs it, and taking other precautions to ensure that the drugs are not being misused.
Failing to take these precautions or prescribing controlled substances when they are not necessary or when there are signs that they are being misused can lead to a criminal investigation. Veterinarians can even be charged with some serious drug offenses if they are not careful, including:
Depending on the nature of the substance and the amount at issue, these can be misdemeanor or felony offenses. If convicted, you could be facing a substantial prison sentence.
Some Frequently Asked Questions About Veterinarian Defense and the Legal Services that Oberheiden P.C. Provides
What Obligations Do I Have Regarding Controlled Substances?
As a veterinarian, you often use some potentially dangerous drugs in the course of your practice, including many painkillers. While these are essential for controlling dogs, cats, and other animals while you provide the medical care that they need, these drugs are also frequently used by people for the effects that they cause. They can also be addictive and create dependency and lead to substance abuse.
Veterinarians have to take numerous steps to comply with the laws that control when and how these substances are disbursed. These steps go far beyond merely not handing out drugs to any pet owner that asks for them. You also have to:
Keep accurate records of the controlled substances that pass through your clinic or your hands
Dispose of drugs properly
Ensure that the drugs are stored securely and separately from over-the-counter drugs
Examine controlled drugs in your possession to ensure your records are accurate
Only use the drugs for their intended purposes
Selling controlled substances from your veterinarian’s office is only one of the most obvious ways to run afoul of the law. There are numerous others that are less apparent.
What is a “National Law Firm”?
Oberheiden P.C. is a national law firm. This means that we have offices in nearly every state and every major American city. No matter where you practice as a veterinarian, you can count on there being local counsel from Oberheiden P.C. nearby.
Why Should I Trust Oberheiden P.C. to Defend Me?
All of the defense lawyers at Oberheiden P.C. are senior level attorneys with at least a decade in practice. Many of them have substantially more than that. Furthermore, lots of our lawyers only came to Oberheiden P.C. after long and successful careers within some of the state or federal agencies that are the most likely to be pursuing a civil or criminal investigation into veterinarians, such as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Importantly, though, these are the only people that make up Oberheiden P.C. We do not have junior associates on our staff, or even any paralegals or legal secretaries. When you call our law office, a senior lawyer with over a decade of experience will answer your call and give you the information that you need. When work is done on your case, it will be performed by a senior attorney who knows exactly how it should be done, having done it for over a decade for other clients and veterinarian’s practices in the past.
Very few other law firms are as hands-on as we are. We think that you should be represented by the lawyer whose credentials attracted you to our firm, and we mean to act on that intention.
Why Doesn’t Oberheiden P.C. Call Itself the Best Veterinarian Defense Firm?
We are not comfortable making these sorts of judgment calls. While our work is exceptional and our roster of lawyers is unparalleled, we still prefer to let our prior clients leave testimonials to this affect rather than saying it on our own. We also think that it means more when it comes from them, anyway.
The Veterinarian Defense Lawyers at Oberheiden P.C.
The veterinarian defense lawyers at Oberheiden P.C. recognize that doctors and physicians are not the only healthcare professionals that are exposed to serious legal jeopardy during the course of their careers. Veterinarians also have numerous legal obligations to satisfy, and they face administrative, civil, or potentially even criminal penalties if they fail to do so.
The lawyers at Oberheiden P.C. strive to legally represent veterinarians across the country in court or before their state’s medical board or the administrative agency that is threatening to suspend or rescind your license or a certification that you need to practice your profession. Contact them online or call their law office at (888) 680-1745 for the legal help and guidance that you need to defend against the accusations that are being made against you.
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