To submit a complaint, please print and complete these forms and send them to the Board office: Complaint Registration Form and Records Waiver Authorization
The completed forms may be sent as an e-mail attachment, fax, or U.S. mail. Please make sure you have signed the documents before sending them to the Board office. Please contact the Board if you have any questions.
U.S. mail: Board of Veterinary Medicine, 2829 University Avenue SE #401, Minneapolis, MN 55414
When a written complaint is received by this Board, the first step is to determine if the allegations pertain to the Veterinary Practice Act and Rules of the Board of Veterinary Medicine. If not, then the Board has no jurisdiction and the complainant is informed that no action will be taken.
The majority of the complaints are jurisdictional, so once received, a confidential investigation begins. The person who filed the complaint (complainant) may only know that the investigation is ongoing. However, additional materials can be added to the original complaint by the complainant during the investigation process.
1. For the most serious complaints, if credible evidence suggests that continued practice by a veterinarian poses an imminent risk of serious harm to the public or animals, the veterinarian’s license can be temporarily suspended. This triggers a rapid legal process wherein both the Board and the veterinarian present their evidence at a hearing with an administrative law judge. After weighing the evidence, the judge provides an opinion on whether the suspension was justified. If so, further disciplinary proceedings usually follow. These proceedings could result in a disciplinary order which continues the suspension until the veterinarian meets specified requirements, a stayed suspension limiting the type of veterinary work the veterinarian can do, or license revocation.
2. For complaints where additional evidence is needed from owners, staff or other veterinarians, additional investigation may be requested by the Board. A trained investigator from the Office of the Attorney General will seek further information regarding the complaint. This typically may include interviews, subpoena of records, and site visits. The evidence is compiled, interpreted, and provided to the Board. This process may take many weeks.
3. For most complaints, the investigation proceeds as follows after the complaint was received:
a) A letter of inquiry is sent to the subject of the complaint, summarizing the allegations and requiring a written response within 30 days. If the subject of the complaint is a veterinarian, the medical record for the animal(s) that are described in the complaint must also be submitted. Medical records may also be requested from another veterinary practice that was involved in the care of the patient.
b) During this process, the subject of the complaint has the right to be represented by an attorney. That attorney may request additional time for preparation at most points during the process.
c) Once a letter of response is received from the subject of the complaint, all of the complaint materials and any prior complaints against the veterinarian(s) in question are reviewed by a Complaint Review Committee comprised of two Board members. There are 5 Complaint Review Committees: two for small animal complaints, one for large animal complaints, and one for complaints alleging impairment. Each Committee has at least one veterinarian. All Complaint Review Committee members are members of the Board of Veterinary Medicine and appointed by the Governor.
d) The Committee members discuss the issues and evidence in the complaint materials and determine if a violation of statutes or rules is likely. If not, the complaint is dismissed, and both the subject of the complaint and the complainant are notified. This stage of the complaint process usually takes several weeks.
e) The Committee members may determine that further investigation is needed at this point as well. This may include requesting more medical records, an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General and/or a conference with the subject of the complaint. These processes take additional weeks, depending on the complexity of the complaint. If the subject of the complaint is not a veterinarian, the Committee may request a Cease and Desist Order, which orders the person to cease the practice of veterinary medicine.
f) Following review of the available information and outcome of a conference with the veterinarian who is the subject of the complaint, the Committee may dismiss the complaint. More often, the Committee proposes corrective action or disciplinary action. The veterinarian may agree to the proposed solution, make a counter proposal, or refuse to agree to the proposal. This process can be very long, and may involve a hearing before an administrative law judge. The person who filed the complaint and the subject of the complaint are given notice every 4 months that the investigation of the complaint is still ongoing.
g) If the Committee and the veterinarian sign an Agreement for Corrective Action, the person who filed the complaint is informed and provided with the Agreement. The Agreement is also posted on the Board’s website and reported to a national database.
h) If the Committee and veterinarian agree to disciplinary action, entitled a Stipulation and Order, this must be reviewed by the entire Board for approval. Once approved, the person who filed the complaint is informed and provided with the Stipulation and Order. The Order is also posted on the Board’s website and reported to a national database.
i) If an Agreement for Corrective Action or Stipulation and Order has been issued, the Board’s executive director tracks compliance with all of the requirements. Once all of the requirements have been met, this completion is noted on the Board’s website. However, for a Stipulation and Order, the Board must vote for the veterinarian’s license to no longer be conditioned (restricted). This vote occurs at the next meeting of the Board after all of the requirements are completed, which may add more weeks to the complaint’s resolution.
If you like, contact the Board of Veterinary Medicine at 651-201-2844 to discuss your concerns. If the Board is able to be of assistance, you will be asked to submit the written complaint forms to initiate a formal review.
Generally, complaints about veterinarians fall into these areas:
The Board can only take action against a veterinarian's license to practice. It can't help you recover money or resolve fee disputes.
First, the Board's staff gathers information from a variety of sources, starting with the information you include in your complaint. The staff or an investigator from the Attorney General's office will gather medical records, collect data and may interview those involved. If you are the owner of the animal(s) you will be asked to sign a records waiver authorization form to allow the Board to obtain your animal's medical records. In most instances, the staff will also obtain a response from the veterinarian involved. When the information gathering is completed, the Board's complaint review committee will review the facts and decide whether to take action against the veterinarian involved.
The Board can take a variety of actions. It can limit, suspend or revoke a veterinarian's license; it can order a veterinarian to take more training or to stop performing certain procedures; it can impose a penalty fee; it can order veterinarians to enroll in appropriate treatment programs.
During the investigation and review process, the Board will protect your identity unless you consent to have it disclosed. In most cases pertaining to an animal's care, the owner is the complainant and can be readily identified by the signed Records Waiver Authorization.
The length of time to complete the complaint process varies widely. Complex complaints may require the Board to refer the complaint to the Attorney General's office for investigation. Some reviews move very quickly, others often take months or years.
You can contact the Board staff at any time. However, because of the state data privacy laws, little information can be provided during the investigation. The Board will notify you as to the disposition of your complaint when the investigation and review process is completed. Also, recent legislation requires the Board to send an update letter every 120 days to keep you updated through the complaint process.
The Board receives some complaints that do not lead to action against veterinarians. The Board cannot take action against a veterinarian unless there is clear and convincing evidence to show that the veterinarian violated Minnesota's Veterinary Practice Act and the Rules of the Board of Veterinary Medicine. The Board must thoroughly review each complaint before it takes any action.
The Board's staff may advise you on the services of other governmental agencies or professional associations if the Board is not the appropriate agency to deal with your concerns.
There are no costs for filing a complaint.
No. The Board's complaint process is designed for the public. If you have questions about filing your complaint, the Board's staff can assist you. The choice to seek an attorney's input is yours.
Filing a complaint will not preclude other legal action you choose to consider.
The procedure is the same as filing a complaint against a veterinarian, but you may not be required to sign a records waiver authorization form.You can file a formal complaint with the Board which includes that lay person's name. Ideally, the complaint should include some form of written evidence such as an advertisement, web link, photograph, written advice, or bill to an animal owner and/or the name of a client that is willing to be contact by an investigator from the Attorney General's office.
Anyone with a concern about a veterinarian’s professional services or violation of any regulations can file a complaint. Veterinarians that own a practice must report any licensed employees suspected of drug diversion. Other governmental agencies can also file a complaint. Similarly, anyone can file a complaint regarding the unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine by a non-veterinarian in Minnesota.
Yes. If the individual is licensed as a chiropractor in Minnesota, the complaint will be forwarded to the Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Otherwise, the complaint will most likely be investigated as the unlawful practice of veterinary medicine.
Yes. Each registered equine tooth floater is linked to a licensed veterinarian who has agreed to be his or her supervisor. The Board will investigate the complaint through the supervising veterinarian.