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Disciplinary Committee asks College to remove Suffolk-based vet from Register

25 May 2018

The RCVS Disciplinary Committee has directed the Registrar to remove a Suffolk-based veterinary surgeon from the Register for dishonesty, clinical failings and poor record-keeping.

Dr Horia Elefterescu appeared before the Committee from Tuesday 8 to Thursday 17 May 2018 with seven charges against him. The charges were:

  1. That, in relation to a male cat called Kitty Brown, on 2 September and 10 September 2015 he failed to undertake an adequate examination prior to surgery and that, on 10 September, he undertook an unnecessary laparotomy.
  2. That, in relation to a male cat called Storm Page, on 2 February 2016 he failed to undertake an adequate clinical examination prior to anaesthesia and made dishonest or misleading entries in the clinical records stating that he had undertaken a full clinical examination.
  3. That, in relation to a male cat called Sampson Page, on 2 February 2016 he failed to undertake an adequate clinical examination prior to anaesthesia and made dishonest or misleading entries to the effect that he had undertaken a full clinical examination.
  4. That, in relation to Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery performed on 4 February 2016 on Lucy Allen, a female Bichon Frise, he failed to undertake adequate examinations into the possibility of a cranial cruciate ligament rupture or failed to record the same; performed the TPLO surgery with insufficient clinical justification; performed the surgery inadequately; failed to take steps to rectify inadequate surgery having obtained post-operative radiographs; made dishonest/ misleading entries into clinical records; and, in a letter to the RCVS on 7 August 2016, made dishonest and misleading comments.
  5. That, in relation to a male cat called Kipper Morley, on 9 February 2016 he failed to take and record a sufficiently detailed history; failed to undertake an adequate clinical examination; that, having noted the possibility that Kipper might have anaemia, he failed to make arrangements for urgent investigations to be undertaken; that, having decided to administer intravenous fluids to Kipper, failed to make arrangements urgently; and failed to keep clear, accurate and detailed clinical records.
  6. That between 1 September 2015 and 28 February 2016 failed to keep clear, accurate clinical records in relation to seven cases.
  7. That, on 14 February 2016, in relation to a male cat named Chino Biggs, he failed to undertake adequate clinical examination and dishonestly made entries in the clinical records saying that he had undertaken aspects of an examination when he had not done so.

Having heard evidence from complainants, witnesses (including expert witnesses) and the respondent himself the Committee determined that the facts of all the charges were proven – with the exception of part of Charge 6 regarding his keeping inadequate clinical records in relation to a male cat called Dax Parham.

“In addition to his clinical and record keeping failures the respondent has been found to have acted dishonestly. This dishonesty would have impacted upon professional colleagues and any owner who viewed the records. It has the potential to undermine public confidence in the profession," Ian Arundale, chairing the Disciplinary Committee 

The Committee then went on to consider whether the proven charges, both individually and cumulatively, amounted to serious professional misconduct. In relation to the first and fifth charges the Committee found that, while Dr Elefterescu’s conduct fell below what was expected of a professional veterinary surgeon – they did not constitute serious professional conduct.

In relation to the parts of the second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh charges that were found proven, the Committee determined that each constituted serious professional misconduct.

In relation to these determinations, Ian Arundale, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The respondent’s clinical failures… are very serious, amounting as they do to failures in the basics of animal care and resulting in suffering to the animal. They involve widespread breaches of the Code, including not only the obligation in relation to animal health and welfare… but also the specific obligations of the Code in relation to record keeping.

“In addition to his clinical and record keeping failures the respondent has been found to have acted dishonestly. This dishonesty would have impacted upon professional colleagues and any owner who viewed the records. It has the potential to undermine public confidence in the profession. The respondent was also dishonest in a letter written in August 2017 to his regulator.”

"In particular, the unnecessary surgery (both the initial and revision) carried out on Lucy Allen constituted very serious harm to an animal. The Committee considers that the respondent’s lack of insight into his failings, and his wholly unjustified confidence in his abilities constitute an ongoing risk to animal welfare," Ian Arundale, chairing the Disciplinary Committee. 

In considering Dr Elefterescu’s sanction, the Committee took into account a number of aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors included actual and risk of injury to animals, dishonesty, recklessness, breach of client trust, repeated misconduct and limited insight into his failings.

In mitigation the Committee considered that, at the time of the misconduct, the respondent was new to the UK, he had language difficulties which resulted in communication problems, that he was unfamiliar with UK veterinary computer systems and procedures, that he is of good character, that he has taken steps to avoid a repetition of his misconduct and that there have been no subsequent complaints since the dates of the matters in the charges.

However, the Committee found that, in light of the seriousness of the charges found against him, the only sufficient sanction was to direct the Registrar to remove Dr Elefterescu’s name from the Register.

Mr Arundale, commenting on the sanction, said: “The respondent’s misconduct involved very serious departures from the professional standards set out in the RCVS Code…. In particular, the unnecessary surgery (both the initial and revision) carried out on Lucy Allen constituted very serious harm to an animal. The Committee considers that the respondent’s lack of insight into his failings, and his wholly unjustified confidence in his abilities constitute an ongoing risk to animal welfare.

"In these circumstances, the Committee has determined that the only sanction which is appropriate and proportionate, in order to ensure the welfare of animals, the public interest and the reputation of the profession, is to direct the respondent’s removal from the Register.”

Dr Elefterescu has 28 days in which he can lodge an appeal with the Privy Council regarding the Disciplinary Committee’s decision.

Please note:  this news story is to assist with understanding the circumstances of the case and the Committee's decision, it does not form part of the findings or decision. The Committee's full findings and decision is the only authoritative document.

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