In a recently released audit, Secretary of State Bev Clarno concluded that Oregon veterinarians have not shown due diligence in monitoring their prescription drugs, including opioids.
623 veterinary practices were surveyed, and according to the data, “23 percent of respondents have seen an increase in the number of customers exhibiting doctor shopping behaviors in the last three years, including suspicious pet injuries.” A further 15 percent suspected their co-workers of substance abuse, and possibly diverting medications for their own use.
Veterinary Board at Fault
The audit points to lax standards at the Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board. In an interview with OPB, Principal Auditor Tracey Gates said that “we found that they weren’t conducting background checks on veterinarians. And this was something that had been brought up in a 2014 audit that we did, and they still weren’t doing background checks.”
The board is the only health-licensing organization in Oregon that does not require background checks, instead relying upon applicants to self-report any criminal history. Auditors also found that board inspections do not review controlled substance logs at veterinary practices.
“The board’s focus seemed to be more along the lines of ‘What is helpful for the veterinarian community?’” said Gates, “Rather than following their mission, which is to protect the animal health and welfare, public health and the consumers of veterinarian services.”
Vet Board Buys Clarno’s Prescription
Clarno has recommended that the board implement more rigorous inspections and background checks, as well as joining the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The board agreed with her assessment in a letter, and stated that they are initiating policy changes accordingly, although some may require additional legislation. The secretary of state is set to review their progress next year.
By Brandon Urey