State licensing department explains what happens to veterinarian complaints

INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WSYM) - Since we broke the story of neglect and starvation of dogs at the Ingham County Animal Control & Shelter.

People have been asking why there's been no action taken against the shelter vet. The public is expected to bring that question up at Thursday's County Law and Courts Committee meeting.

Ingham County commissioners have sent reports from both the Michigan Humane Society and the county controller to the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA)
LARA's director told me FOX 47's Alani Letang veterinarians guilty of neglect can be suspended or even have their licenses revoked.

"In general there are a few crimes, a conviction that would arrant, in statute a revocation. But each case looked on an individual basis to determine the severity and the actual allegations. So it hard to speculate on what would be a circumstance," said Cheryl Pezon-Director, The Bureau Of Professional Licensing In The Department Of Licensing And Regulatory Affairs.

LARA received two complaints about Dr. Karen Worthington on August 9th, 2018. LARA also confirms that Worthington has no past disciplinary actions. Once LARA receives a complaint, they review it and then send it to the necessary board review panel. The review panel is three professional members from the board, including the chair. The vet board consists of 9 members: 5 veterinarians, 1 veterinarian technician, and 3 public members. Each member serves 4-year terms. The governor appoints those board members.

After the review panel looks at it, it is sent to LARA's investigators where they will gather information, records, talk to the complainant, witnesses and the licensee.

From there it gets sent to a regulation section to draft an administrative complaint if there is a public health code violation.

She has options if regulators determine there are violations.

"They have the opportunity to either admit or deny or they want to settle they say this is true but this isn't true, and I'd like a compliance conference. Or take it to an administrative law judge," said Pezon.

The board's disciplinary subcommittee, which includes licensed vets and public members, has the final say.

"They look at the complaint, the allegations, the seriousness and make a determination. Sanctions can range from requiring additional continuing education all the way up to revoking a license" said Pezon. LARA has up to 90 days to investigate allegations outlined in complaints, and they are allowed some leeway if mroe information needs to be obtained.

- LARA's Citizen’s Guide to Filing a Complaint here: 
Filing a Complaint

- Here’s the schedule of 2018 Veterinary Medicine Board Meetings:
Vet Medicine Board Meetings

- Agendas and Minutes to past Veterinary Medicine Board Meetings can be found here:
Past agendas and meetings

- All board meetings are open to the public. Agendas are available approximately two weeks before the meetings.

- Page 10 of this report outlines the following for veterinarians: complaints received, number of investigations opened, number of investigations closed, number of enforcement actions etc.
Info on vets

- Beginning on page 6, this report further breaks down information by health profession:
Info by health profession

- Specific disciplinary action against licensees can be found on our Health License Disciplinary Action Reports page here:
Disciplinary action against licensees