Veterinary surgeons suspended from the Register for lying about circumstances of fatal operation
The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has suspended two veterinary surgeons from the Register after finding them guilty of lying to clients and the College about the circumstances of a castration procedure which led to the death of a dog.
The Committee, which met on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 September, suspended Mr Mpho Donald Lesolle and Mr Georgi Cheshmedzhiev from the Register for four and two months respectively, following surgery undertaken on Benson, a two-year-old male Labradoodle belonging to Mr and Mrs Grayson.
During the proceedings, the Committee heard that, on 6 August 2013, Mr and Mrs Grayson brought Benson to the Swinfen Veterinary Centre in Stafford for the operation, which was undertaken by Mr Cheshmedzhiev.
The Committee heard that, after the operation, a nursing assistant, Ms Bell, had noticed that there was blood on the bedding and that Benson had a swollen scrotum. Mr Lesolle then performed a scrotal ablation on Benson, who was discharged later that day.
However, on the morning of 8 August 2013, Mrs Grayson discovered that Benson had died during the night. An independent post-mortem concluded that he had probably died of intra-abdominal bleeding which caused circulatory collapse. Mr and Mrs Grayson raised a concern with the RCVS in September 2013.
The charge against Mr Lesolle relates to his actions following the operations and during the investigation. The four parts of the charge were that he failed to be sufficiently open with Mr and Mrs Grayson on the circumstances of Benson’s surgery; that, in September 2013, he wrote to the College indicating that he had in fact performed the castration and failing to state that there had been two operations; that, on 23 January 2014, he informed Pam Mosedale, a Veterinary Investigator employed by the College, that he had carried out both procedures; and that, on the same day, he also encouraged his veterinary nursing assistant Ms Bell to be dishonest with the College’s investigators.
Mr Lesolle, who was present at the hearing, admitted all parts of the charge against him. He told the Committee that he decided to take responsibility for Mr Cheshmedzhiev’s operation out of a desire to protect his colleague whom he regarded as vulnerable and lacking in self-confidence. He also accepted that he had encouraged Ms Bell to lie during her interview. He told the Committee that he had persisted with the deceit until 15 January 2015, when he gave a full account of what had occurred.
The three parts of the charge against Mr Cheshmedzhiev, who was not in attendance or represented at the hearing, were that in a letter to the College sent in September 2013, he indicated that he had not undertaken the castration procedure on Benson; that on 23 January 2014 he had denied carrying out the operation while being interviewed by Pam Mosedale; and that, on 19 June 2014, while being interviewed by a solicitor instructed by the College, he said that Mr Lesolle had carried out both procedures.
The Committee found the charge against Mr Lesolle amounted to serious professional misconduct, falling far short of what is expected of a professional. The Committee highlighted the protracted nature of his deceit and the fact that he encouraged another member of staff to participate in it. However, it did accept that his motivation was to protect Mr Cheshmedzhiev.
In deciding on the sanction for Mr Lesolle, the Committee considered the aggravating and mitigating factors. Ian Green, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “Having taken the calculated decision to deceive the College as to what had occurred, he abused his position of responsibility to obtain support for his deceit by involving a junior employee, without any proper consideration of the effect of that decision upon her. Instead he continued with the deceit until he was presented with incontrovertible evidence that he had not carried out both procedures on the dog. In the Committee’s view he showed a wilful disregard for the College’s investigatory process.”
However, in mitigation, it also accepted that he was protecting a colleague and that there was no financial gain. It also considered his personal circumstances, the fact that he is sole principal of a small mixed practice which provides his sole source of income and that the rented accommodation also provides a home for his wife and two children. Taking all factors into account, the Committee imposed a sanction upon Mr Lesolle of four months’ suspension from the Register.
In deciding the sanction, the Committee said that the fact that Mr Cheshmedzhiev had lied to the College’s investigators on two occasions and did not admit that he had carried out the castration and apologise for his actions until February 2015, after he had returned to his native Bulgaria, was an aggravating factor.
Ian Green added: “The Committee accepts that he allowed himself to be persuaded by Mr Lesolle to provide a dishonest account of what had taken place to the College’s investigator Mrs Mosedale, and solicitor, Mr Hudson. It also accepts that he has been described by Mr Lesolle as a vulnerable person, lacking in self-confidence in his ability to practise as a veterinary surgeon in the United Kingdom.
“Nevertheless, Mr Cheshmedzhiev accepted the obligations contained in the Code of Professional Conduct when he registered as an MRCVS [member of the RCVS], which included an obligation to cooperate honestly with the College’s investigatory process. It has also noted that he has expressed a present intention not to work in or visit the United Kingdom again.”
Taking into account all factors, the Committee decided the appropriate sanction was to suspend him from the Register for two months.