Board reaffirms peer-review procedure model for grievances

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The AVMA Executive Board has reaffirmed the Peer Review Procedure Manual. The manual provides a model for states to establish peer-review procedures for responding to grievances against veterinarians.

The Council on Veterinary Service had previously recommended that the board reaffirm the manual. But, the board referred the manual back to the council for consideration of liability issues.

The AVMA PLIT, which provides liability insurance, came out in opposition to peer-review proceedings because of concerns that the findings of such proceedings may be used in subsequent civil proceedings against a veterinarian. Hence, the council recommended that the board rescind the manual.

The AVMA Judicial Council, however, wrote a memorandum speaking to the value of an AVMA manual. The council noted that it routinely refers complaints to state or local authorities.

The introduction to the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics of the AVMA states, in part: "Complaints about behavior that may violate the Principles should be addressed in an appropriate and timely manner. Such questions should be considered initially by ethics, grievance, or peer review committees of local or state veterinary associations, when they occur and/or when appropriate, state veterinary medical boards."

Dr. Joseph H. Kinnarney, District III representative, spoke in favor of reaffirming the manual during the board meeting. Dr. Kinnarney said North Carolina, his home state, resolves almost all complaints against veterinarians through peer review.

After additional discussion, the board voted to reaffirm the manual. Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, District I representative and vice chair of the board, asked that the AVMA attorney add a prologue to the manual addressing potential liability issues.