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Disciplinary Committee makes no finding of serious professional misconduct against Hampshire vet

23 June 2017

The RCVS Disciplinary Committee ended an inquiry against a Hampshire-based veterinary surgeon after it found no case of serious professional misconduct against him.

The case against Jose Ignacio Messa MRCVS, which concluded on Wednesday 14 June 2017, related to two heads of charge against him.

The first charge was that, on 13 September 2015, Mr Messa failed to provide adequate and appropriate care to Barney, a border collie. The second charge was that on 14 September 2015 Mr Messa failed to ensure adequate and appropriate on-going care for Barney after his examination of him, including failing to take sufficient steps to ensure that Barney was referred urgently to the care of a referral practice and failing to ensure there were adequate arrangements in place for his ongoing care.

Barney had been presented to the Basingstoke practice where Mr Messa was employed on 13 September 2015 having suffered a severe ‘stick injury’ to his jaw the previous day. Mr Messa had previously examined and provided treatment to Barney on 12 September immediately following Barney’s injury. The Committee heard that, on 13 September, Mr Messa had examined Barney, administered medication and then discharged him to be cared for at home by his owners. During the examination the owners had alerted Mr Messa to the condition of the skin on Barney’s neck, but the Committee heard Mr Messa had felt the area and reassured them it was not something to be concerned about.

The Committee heard that at some point on 13 September, after he was discharged, Barney developed a foetid smell from his mouth caused by an infection and the next day his owners went back to the practice because Barney’s condition had deteriorated – he was unable to walk and had laboured breathing. On 14 September Mr Messa admitted and sedated Barney and examined him again, noting a hole in the side of his throat that was infected. He recommended referring Barney to a referral practice for further treatment, which was agreed by his owners.

Whilst the Committee did not find Mr Messa’s actions fell far below the requisite standard, there were concerns expressed about several aspects of this case. There were a number of missed opportunities which occurred; in particular the Committee notes the failure of the care plan and to take adequate steps to ensure that the referral process has been timeously effected.”

The Committee heard that the referral practice was contacted by a veterinary nurse at the practice and that an appointment for 9am on 15 September 2015 was booked directly with the owner. It also heard that, during his time at Mr Messa’s practice, Barney did not receive intravenous fluids or any further antibiotics. Barney’s owners said they met with Mr Messa again at around 5pm on 14 September when they came to collect Barney, this was disputed by Mr Messa, and the Committee were not satisfied so as to be sure that it had been Mr Messa who had met the owners and discharged Barney although the Committee found that all the witnesses had been honest and reliable. Barney was admitted to the referral practice on 15 September but, as a result of sepsis, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died at 10.30pm.

In respect of the first charge the Committee concluded that, on 13 September, Mr Messa made only a rudimentary examination of Barney, and the absence of such basic clinical examination of the temperature, the respiration rate and the pulse of Barney was a failure on the part of Mr Messa and that, furthermore, he did not choose the best course of antibiotic treatment for the wound and infection.

In respect of the second charge Mr Messa admitted that he did not provide fluid therapy to Barney on 14 September before he was discharged. With reference to the remaining aspects of the charge the Committee took into account the Code of Professional Conduct, particularly in respect of the need for veterinary surgeons to refer cases responsibly and the Code’s supporting guidance on referrals. The Committee determined that, having delegated the arrangements of the referral to a veterinary nurse, Mr Messa made no attempts to follow up and ensure it was a same-day appointment when this would have better suited the severity of Barney’s condition. The Committee found that he was unaware of Barney’s location or of the time of the appointment and did not make provision for antibiotic or fluid therapy.

Having found the majority of the charges against Mr Messa proven, the Committee then considered whether this amounted to serious professional misconduct.

Disciplinary Committee member Stuart Drummond, who was chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “In the light of the facts found proved and considering that disgraceful conduct in a professional respect is that which is conduct falling far below that expected of a veterinary surgeon, the Committee had concluded that the heads of charge, when taken individually, or collectively, do fall below the standard expected.

“However, as a matter of judgement, the Committee did not conclude that Mr Messa’s conduct fell far below the requisite standard and therefore did not amount of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.

“Whilst the Committee did not find Mr Messa’s actions fell far below the requisite standard, there were concerns expressed about several aspects of this case. There were a number of missed opportunities which occurred; in particular the Committee notes the failure of the care plan and to take adequate steps to ensure that the referral process has been timeously effected.”

NOTE: This summary is provided to assist in understanding the RCVS Disciplinary Committee’s decision. It does not form part of the reasons for the decision. The Committee’s full findings and decision is the only authoritative document.

 

NOTE: This summary is provided to assist in understanding the RCVS Disciplinary Committee’s decision. It does not form part of the reasons for the decision. The Committee’s full findings and decision is the only authoritative document.
NOTE: This summary is provided to assist in understanding the RCVS Disciplinary Committee’s decision. It does not form part of the reasons for the decision. The Committee’s full findings and decision is the only authoritative document.

 

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