Protect Yourself Against Possible Hoof-Care Lawsuits

With the number of legal claims against equine veterinarians having gradually increased over the years, it’s a good time to look at how you might protect your business against folks unhappy with your foot work.

During the December meeting of the American Association of Equine Practitioners in Seattle, Wash., Dennis Meagher told attendees that the total number of equine claims on horses is not as high as for small animal claims. However, the total dollars are greater because of the high price of many horses.

A staffer in the school of veterinary medicine at the University of California — Davis, he says you need to take several steps to help avoid claims.

Footcare Claims

In a review of 128 malpractice cases where he was involved as an expert witness or consultant from 1970 to 2004, there were eight most frequently reported causes of malpractice claims filed with the American Veterinary Medicine Association liability insurance trust.

These included purchase exams, colic, rectal tears and injuries, anesthetic complications, reactions to injections, fractures, wounds and laminitis.

His analysis of the claims indicates that 65 percent were eventually dropped, 36 percent were settled out of court and 18 went to trial with 16 favoring the defending veterinarian.

Among the cases evaluated by Meagher, laminitis accounted for 5 percent and navicular disease for 6 percent of the total claims.

Part of the concern with laminitis claims, he says, is that laminitis is a fairly common condition. It can occur as a complication of a medical…

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Frank lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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