Complaints about Veterinarians and the CVBC Complaints Process
All veterinarians practising in the province are governed by, and must be registered with, the College of Veterinarians of BC (the "CVBC"). The CVBC is the statutory body created by the Veterinarians Act to oversee, in the public interest, the practice of veterinary medicine in B.C. Like every professional regulatory body, the CVBC is responsible for establishing and enforcing standards of professional competence and conduct for all practitioners. The CVBC has the authority and duty to investigate complaints about veterinarians in BC.
Veterinarians are required to meet the standard of care, skill, knowledge and conduct expected of a competent and ethical professional in every aspect of the handling of a patient. They are also required to provide clients with a complete and understandable explanation of the treatment recommended and seek client consent for the treatment (unless there is an emergency and the client cannot be reached). If requested to do so, veterinarians must provide an estimate of the anticipated costs before proceeding. They must provide an itemized account after treatment is concluded.
Veterinarians generally must provide the client with complete copies of all medical records for a reasonable fee when requested by the client. Transfer of records from one veterinarian to another should be done promptly, especially when the continuity of care for an animal is the basis for the request.
If you have a concern about the care your animal has received or your veterinarian’s conduct, often the best first step is to discuss the matter with your veterinarian. Many concerns relate to misunderstandings that can be resolved by clear and forthright communication. As well, when dealing with a major animal health issue, obtaining a second opinion may give you a different perspective or additional helpful information and added comfort regarding your questions.
What should a complaint letter contain?
If you have been unable to resolve matters directly with your veterinarian, you may provide the College with your written complaint. A complaint letter must set out specific details of the incident(s) of concern, the name of the veterinarian(s) involved, if available, or the name of the veterinary facility(ies) involved, the name of the pet(s) involved, as well as your (the complainant's) contact information (address and phone number). This information is necessary to ensure that the complaint is properly investigated.
Please note that we will generally share your complaint with the veterinarian for the purpose of seeking a reply.
How to submit a complaint regarding a veterinarian:
To submit a formal complaint against a veterinarian you must deliver it to the Registrar in writing. The College will not accept verbal complaints. A complaint can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. or to email@example.com. Alternatively it can be submitted to the CVBC office at #107 - 828 Harbourside Drive, North Vancouver, BC, V7P 3R9; or by fax to 1-604-929-7095.
How your complaint will be handled:
The CVBC makes every effort to handle all complaints as quickly as possible.
All complaints must be in writing and addressed to the College for processing. You may be asked to provide additional information during an investigation. You are entitled to receive information about the progress of the investigation and to learn of its outcome.
The College will determine whether further information is needed before forwarding the complaint to the Investigation Committee, which is composed of qualified veterinarians who oversee the handling of complaints and investigations.
A veterinarian against whom a complaint is made must cooperate with an investigation, including providing information or records requested by the Investigation Committee.
A complaint may ultimately be dismissed, resolved informally, resolved with remedial action or resolved with disciplinary consequences. On occasion it may be necessary to conduct a discipline hearing or to impose interim suspensions and restrictions.
Complaints Regarding Veterinary Bills
Please note that the CVBC may investigate some types of bill-related complaints but does NOT have the power to direct a veterinarian to lower a bill or refund or compensate a client.
There is no mandatory fee guide or schedule for veterinarians.
If you would like an estimate before you agree to treatment, you should request one.
The following link will take you to the Veterinarians Act, where the complaints and discipline process is covered by sections 50 to 68: