What Would Shawn Do? Dealing with an Unethical Associate Doctor

Q:

I am a tech and work with an associate doctor, “Dr. B,” who makes what I think are ethically questionable medical decisions. It happens infrequently, but often enough for me to see it as a pattern. This usually happens when he is rushed and trying to move quickly. Dr. B is very tight with the owner. If I take my concerns to her, I’m afraid she will not believe me or will take Dr. B’s side. What’s my next step?

A:

If you’re not positive the decisions are unethical, gather more evidence and document it before proceeding. Once you are certain the decisions are unethical, confront the associate doctor directly. Unless you believe there could be a risk to your own safety when dealing with Dr. B, schedule time to speak with him at the hospital, in private.

Describe specific examples of the unethical behavior, and explain why you believe it puts the patients and the hospital at risk. Ask Dr. B to commit to stopping the behavior. If he won’t agree to change, tell him you have no choice but to take the problem to the practice owner. Follow through and repeat what you told Dr. B.

The practice owner probably doesn’t know about the ethical violations or how they are jeopardizing patients or the hospital. But if she does know about these decisions and doesn’t care, you should find another job and report the violations to the state veterinary board.

Good luck!

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