Let's uphold standards in veterinary medicine- starting with the 'Incredible Dr. Pol' show.

Every town should have a vet like him.

I read the case and yes, the board may be warranted. However, I have had nothing but wild guesses, inept treatment and outrageous fees from every single vet I have ever been too. Seriously, a vet saw my springer spaniel five times for a severely lame hind leg basically robbing me of close to 600 dollars and couldn't figure out that she had a huge splinter in the webbing of her toes. I found it , cleaned it  and wrapped it for stability and she was healed in about ten days. This injury had been going on for months! I don't even want to talk about the insane cost of normal shots and necessities such as frontline etc... it is a crying shame. 

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It's a TV show.. it's entertainment

You people are sick. Are you all seriously so butt hurt about a show that you've gone to lengths of petitioning the state of Michigan!? Jersey Shore was blatantly stupid but I didn't petition New Jersey. I didn't stop watching the Food Network when they dropped Paula Dean for using the N word 30 years ago. There's a simple solution, TURN OFF YOUR TELEVISION. My kids and I will continue to watch every Saturday night as a simple form of entertainment. I suggest you all find another form of entertainment and fill your lives with joy instead of useless claims of vet malpractice.
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Formal investigation opened

So, several months ago I filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs alleging that violations of the Michigan state standards were documented on a specific case of a specific episode of the show. According to this letter I received today, the department agrees there is cause to open a formal investigation.

Let's all hope for due process.  I stated in the complaint it was entirely possible that the standards were met, and footage showing that simply didn't make it into the episode- but that what was shown was sufficiently concerning I thought the department had cause to ask Dr. Pol to provide documentation showing the standards had been met.

The department agreed and I will call the investigator tomorrow to arrange an interview, as requested.

Dr Pol may satisfy the investigator that the standards were met, and he whole thing may come to nothing.  I will keep you posted to the extent I legally can.  I am honestly not sure I should have even made public that there was an investigation- but I felt it important to let people know that official action was being taken.  As do all licensed professionals, Dr. Pol has the right to practice subject to fulfilling the responsibility of upholding the agreed upon standards of his field.  He also has the right to due process rather than a trial in the court of public opinion.

This case may reveal that it is the process itself that needs to be addressed.  

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Here's the Michigan Minimum Standards

Here's the minimum standards for companion animal veterinary practices in Michigan.  They were compiled and published by the MVMA in 2004.  Enjoy!

MVMA logo 

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I just saw my first - and last - episode of Dr Pol's show. I've been in veterinary medicine 10 years and his methods outdate me by 20 years or more! He performed an OVH with no gas anesthesia and then yanked a bunch of teeth and the dog never did have an endotracheal tube! I'm so horrified - that it's happening, that it's on TV, that its portrayed as "normal" and "ok."

Somebody get this man off the air!

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Back in play

To get everyone current... the Dr. Pol show has been on break.  A new season started January 5.  Dr. Pol fulfilled the terms of his probation so on Oct 12 2012 the Board lifted Dr. Pol's probation as of that date. He is under no restriction or sanction.  

I currently have no option to offer other than filing additional complaints against him with the Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine.  I wish I did.

I can offer this- the assurance that your identity is kept confidential unless you are called to testify.  To quote from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs,

The name of the person filing the allegation will be kept confidential unless he or she is required to testify at a hearing. 


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Well, THAT explains it!

 MI Board Vet Med mtng minutes letterhead

Was looking at the Meetings Agendas and Minutes page for the Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine today, trying to see if we could find out what officially happened at the meeting last Thursday the 25th.  Next meeting is Dec 19, and that's probably when the minutes will be made available, as they have to be voted and approved by the Board.  Which apparently has never heard of the concept of meeting electronically to tend to procedural details like approving minutes, so that information can be disseminated quickly.  I digress.

So the minutes from the most recent meeting aren't up, but I was reading the minutes from the last time the Board met, back in June.  Yes, that's right, June.  Anyway.

Was reading the minutes from the June meeting, and one of the items discussed was a report that the MVMA is 'interested in seeking legislation to require continuing education for licensed veterinary medicine professionals."  Three staffers, two from the Health Regulatory agency and one the Assistant Attorney General, 'provided Board members with rationale for exercising discretion when seeking legislative changes."

So I draw a couple conclusions from this.  


That explains a lot, right there.  Explains why Dr. Pol is still treating shock with big doses of long acting steroids, and doesn't believe animals feel pain.  Those were both common thinking thirty years ago. Might also explain why, five months after a consent decree was entered against him by the Board requiring him to get continuing education (CE), he still hasn't done it.  It's hard to do something you've never done before.

Wonder how many more Dr. Pols there are in Michigan, practicing medicine the exact same way they learned it whenever they got out?  

Maybe we should be thankful that NatGeo gave us the opportunity to call attention to this.

Two, the staff doesn't think it's a good idea.  Don't know how else to interpret 'exercise discretion when seeking legislative changes.'  You  know, it's hard to make headway when the people above you don't want you to.  

Good luck, Board members.  I'll say it again, I don't envy you all the job you have ahead of you. 

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from another venue

I am cutting and pasting this from the comments section of a post discussing the show on another blog, VetsBehavingBadly:

Nicholas440October 14, 2012 11:14 PM There is a lot of good to be said for Dr Pol and his treating farm animals....Some say Dr Pol's treatments are not sanitary, and he doesn't wear a mask or gloves, but I've seen him many times put the gloves on before handling a very sick animal.... The Vets where I live won't even give you the time of day unless you have your cash in hand, and it costs over $40 for the Vet... I've read dozens of posts saying that Dr Pol uses inhumane treatment and he shouldn't be allowed to practice, but let me just say this, if it were your cow laying in the barn with a dead calf inside of her and Dr Pol removed it and saved your cow, you certainly would not be saying that the TV show needs to be removed....he gets the job done without charging a farmer hundreds...I realize that you're saying all medical people who treat animals need to put gloves on to examine them...but there are times when you might have to act to save a life and a box of gloves is not handy....Dr Pol uses old school medicine mostly, and he uses common sense, compassion, and a willingness to help and heal these animals. I'm all for a continuation of the Dr Pol TV shows."

Eden Myers DVMOctober 15, 2012 10:35 PM I agree with Nicholas. You are glad to get whatever you can if it's a life or death situation - and one where you're going to lose a sizable investment if a cow dies, or if the bill is high. Dr Pol is a man to be respected, and he has done a tremendous amount of good for his clients and their animals over the decades he has been in practice. He obviously cares for his clients, patients and staff. He has been there when they needed him, and come when they called, day and day out, for forty years. If I recall we gave Lou Gehrig an award for that, didn't we?

And I agree with Nicholas that we don't know what happens when we aren't there; we only know what National Geographic chooses to show us. 
That's my point. National Geographic *could* have chosen a practice without ongoing, active board complaints. It is an undeniable fact that all three vets in the practice they chose to feature were sanctioned by the state board, and according to public record haven't gotten additional education as the Board ordered them to do to get off probation. 

National Geographic *could* choose to show the times Dr Pol wears gloves, offers referral, consults with colleagues, documents owner conversations, uses advanced technology...but instead National Geographic is choosing to show almost exclusively instances of care that are clearly in violation of Michigan VMA Recommended Minimum Standards. 

This does a disservice to all the animal owners who then think, Well, that's the best a vet can do. It may be the best that clients of Dr Pol's wanted to pay for- which is none of my business. Literally. That is between the vet and the client and the state board. I have no place to criticise anything other than what I see. 

But that's plenty.

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Please cancel this horrendous show.

This show is absolutely repugnant and should not be televised or viewed.

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An Open Letter to the Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine

I don't envy you as you meet this Thursday to address, among other agenda items, what to do about Dr. Pol.  

You must fulfill the "obligation to take disciplinary action against licensees who have adversely affected the public's health, safety, and welfare" (1) by upholding the established standards of your state (2).  

You have, in multiple episodes of the "Incredible Dr. Pol" show, inarguable violations of the Public Health Code by failure to meet established state standards.  These violations are committed by a licensee who is already on probation after having been found guilty of negligence and incompetence.  Said licensee has since publicly stated he feels "that his clinic made no mistakes in the case" and was misled at his hearing (3).

Said licensee has two associates, both also on probation after having been found guilty of negligence and incompetence while in his employ.  One was found guilty in the same complaint (4, 5) and one in a different case (6).  The second complaint also involved a case resulting in potentially avoidable death.  

But while you must prosecute failure to meet minimum standards, you must not persecute.  Dr. Pol is a caring, dedicated professional who has day and night answered the call to provide service to his clients and their animals for 41 years.  That commands respect and requires that his dignity be guarded and his reputation upheld throughout the proceedings against him.

But proceeding against this one veterinarian will not address the reason I started the petition (7) on Change.org, calling on National Geographic to cancel the show.  It will not prevent the portrayal of substandard care as acceptable. Nor will it prevent the provision of substandard care in the first place. To those ends, I ask you to consider enacting the following policies:

If on probation, a licensee 

-may not teach or host externs, students, preceptors, volunteers or anyone seeking instruction or demonstration of practice;
-may not speak, write, serve as an expert witness in court or appear in any media for public broadcast in the role of a licensed professional;
-must have the license immediately suspended if evidence of new or continuing violation is observed;
-must demonstrate not only attendance at continuing education but mastery of the material presented AND application in practice of what was mastered.
Additionally, a letter from the Board to National Geographic would ensure that the producers are aware the licensed professionals featured on the show are, in fact, not fully licensed in the state of Michigan, due to violations of the Michigan minimum practice standards.  

On behalf of the almost 1500 veterinarians, technicians, assistants and animal owners who signed the petition- and the hundreds of thousands of clients and animals we represent- I thank you for the attention you will give this matter when you meet tomorrow night.  We look forward to your response.


Eden Myers DVM


For the benefit of those wishing to consult the background material of this situation:

(1) Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine authority and constitution 

(2) MVMA Minimum Recommended Standards for Companion Animal Veterinary Practices

(3) "The Incredible Dr Pol" Asserts Innocence Despite Board Discipline

(4) Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine complaint and order against Dr Jan Pol  

(5) Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine complaint and order against Dr. Brenda Grettenberger

(6) Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine complaint and order against Dr. Eric Gaw

(7) National Geographic: Cancel the "Incredible Dr. Pol"

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