The General Statutes of North Carolina established the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board for the purpose of regulating the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery.
The General Statutes, along with the Administrative Code, establish protocols for the review of complaints and set grounds for possible disciplinary action. Complaints are filed against licensees or registrants of the Board rather than veterinary practice facilities. The complaint protocol applies to licensed veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians, applicants for examination and faculty certificate holders of this Board. Complaints cannot be accepted anonymously, by fax, email or telephone.
Statutes of limitations define the time period in which an action must be filed, as measured from the date of the incident. The NCVMB does not have a statute of limitations for filing complaints.
Printer friendly version of Summary of the Complaint Process
Types of Complaints
The Board investigates complaints concerning the practice of veterinary medicine and the standard of care provided by licensees and registrants of the Board and includes, but not limited to:
- Gross negligence
The NCVMB does not have the governance to address complaints that deal with:
- Fee Issues: The Practice Act does not address the issue of fees. Therefore, the Board has no governance concerning fees or the jurisdiction to settle monetary disputes. Monetary disputes would be handled through civil court.
- Personality conflicts or perceived rude behavior
- Boarding/Grooming facilities
- Attempts to collect debt
- Contract Disputes: The Practice Act does not address contract disputes; therefore, these types of disputes are generally not within the jurisdiction of the Board.
Filing a Complaint
A letter of complaint should be typed and mailed to:
NC Veterinary Medical Board
1611 Jones Franklin Road, Suite 106
Raleigh, NC 27606
Complaints CANNOT be accepted anonymously, by fax, telephone, or in person. A formal complaint is serious. The process takes time and may require all parties to travel to a meeting of the Board and provide testimony under oath.
The letter of complaint needs to include the following information:
- The name(s) of the accused veterinarian and/or veterinary technician whom the complaint is to be filed against.
- Name(s) of any veterinarian(s) or veterinary practice(s) that may have more information or medical records concerning the pet.
- Detailed account of the complaint/situation including pet's name, age, and breed.
- Copies of any documentation(s) or information pertaining to the complaint.
- A signed copy of the 'Records Release Form'.
NOTE: Please remember to provide a mailing address and telephone number(s) should the Board need to contact you.
Procedure for Investigation/Review of Complaints
- A copy of the letter of complaint is forwarded by certified mail to the accused individual(s) for a response. They are given twenty (20) days from the time they receive the letter of complaint to respond in writing.
- A copy of the accused's written response is then forwarded to the complainant. They also are given twenty (20) days from receipt of the letter to reply. Should the complainant not reply to the accused individual's response, the Committee on Investigation (the "Committee") could dismiss the complaint.
- When the complainant's response is received, a copy is forwarded to the accused party and a date is set for the complaint to be reviewed by the Committee.
- After the complaint is reviewed, the Committee relays its findings at the next meeting of the full board. The attorney for the Board prepares all letters that summarize the findings of the Committee and mail letters to all parties.
- The outcome of the complaint may take several months due to the amount of time to: obtain responses from the accused/complainant, the investigative committee to review/interview pertinent people/make a recommendation on the case, the full Board to approve the recommendation of the investigative committee (the Board meets every two (2) months) and for the Board attorney to write a letter that summarizes the findings for all parties involved.
NOTE: A complaint may need to be continued until the next meeting of the Committee. All parties are informed of this continuation by the Board in writing.
Possible Actions by the Board
- Issue a Letter of Dismissal
- Issue a Letter of Caution
- Issue a Letter of Reprimand
- Suspension of license/registration to practice veterinary medicine in North Carolina
The Committee on Investigations can dismiss a complaint when it:
- Determines that no probable cause exists
- Lacks the jurisdiction to proceed
- Lacks a response from the person who initiated the complaint
Letter of Caution
A Letter of Caution may be issued when no probable cause is found but it is determined by the Committee on Investigations that the conduct of the accused individual is not in accordance with accepted professional practice. The Letter of Caution is prepared by the Board's attorney and mailed to all parties.
Letter of Reprimand
When probable cause is found, but it is determined that a disciplinary administrative hearing is not warranted, the Committee on Investigations can issue a Letter of Reprimand. The Letter of Reprimand is prepared by the Board's attorney and mailed to all parties.
ACCEPTANCE OF REPRIMAND
If the Letter of Reprimand is accepted by the accused individual, a record of the Letter of Reprimand shall be maintained at the Board office.
REFUSAL OF REPRIMAND
The accused individual has fifteen (15) days to refuse the Letter of Reprimand from the date received. A written refusal and request for a hearing should be addressed to the Committee on Investigations and filed with the Executive Director of the Board. This is pursuant to Chapter 150B of the North Carolina General Statutes, Title 21, Chapter 66 of the North Carolina Administrative Code. Legal Counsel for the Board shall prepare and file such Notice of Hearing.
When disciplinary action is refused by the licensee or registrant and probable cause was found, the attorney for the Board will file a Notice of Hearing. All parties involved in the complaint are informed and must travel to a meeting of the Board to provide testimony under oath. Hearing procedures are similar to a court of law.
METHOD OF NOTICE
The Board shall give notice to all parties of a Notice of Hearing in person or by certified mail. In the event the notice is accomplished by certified mail, the delivery date on the return receipt shall be the date served.
NOTIFICATION OF DEADLINE
The Board shall give the party or parties in a contested case a Notice of Hearing no less than fifteen (15) days before the hearing.
Suspension of License/Registration
If the Board determines that public health, safety or welfare requires such action, the Board may issue an order suspending a license or registration. The Board's attorney will prepare the order requiring the licensee or registrant to immediately cease the practice of veterinary medicine in North Carolina.
Ownership of Veterinary Practices
Only a North Carolina licensed veterinarian can own and operate a veterinary practice facility and deliver services to the public. Welfare groups, humane societies or other entities cannot operate and are not able to own veterinary practice facilities in North Carolina. Any advertising or promotions suggesting that someone or entity owns a veterinary practice other than a North Carolina licensed veterinarian, would be considered in violation of the Practice Act.
Welfare groups, humane societies or other entities are not authorized by law to engage in the delivery of veterinary medical services to the public.