Here’s Why Dr. Pol was Sued Multiple Times. Legal Battle

In a recent ruling, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the state’s decision to place 77-year-old celebrity veterinarian Jan Pol, DVM, on professional probation for negligence. This decision stems from a 2018 order by the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), which found Dr. Pol negligent in his treatment of a dog during surgery and in his care for a wounded horse. The ruling maintains LARA’s disciplinary action against Dr. Pol, known for his role on Nat Geo Wild’s The Incredible Dr. Pol.

Coleman, MI USA: Dr. Pol juggles a number of vials and syringes after being called out to perform blood tests at Susanne and Ray Kirklin’s boer goat farm. (Photo credit: © National Geographic Channels / Michael Stankevich)

A series of events

The origins of the case trace back to 2013, when a television viewer raised concerns about Dr. Pol’s performance during a dog’s ovariohysterectomy. Subsequently, the state attorney general launched an investigation and filed a complaint against Dr. Pol, alleging several shortcomings during the procedure.

These included the failure to intubate the dog, not utilizing electronic monitoring, neglecting to request assistance in locating the dog’s uterus, and not adhering to proper surgical attire.

In 2015, another complaint arose from horse owners who accused Dr. Pol of lacking proper protective gear while treating a leg laceration on their horse and failing to trim the hair around the wound.

Although an administrative law judge initially found the state’s evidence insufficient to prove Dr. Pol’s negligence or incompetence in either case, LARA officials disagreed with part of the judge’s findings.

Consequently, they placed Dr. Pol on probation for specific violations, such as failure to intubate during surgery, inadequate surgical attire, and failure to prepare the horse’s wound properly.

As part of the probationary terms, Dr. Pol was required to serve a probationary period, cover all associated costs, and complete continuing education in small animal surgical preparation, monitoring, and aseptic techniques for both small and large animals.

Dr. Pol contested LARA’s decision, but the appeals court upheld the ruling on December 19.

Dr. Pol’s historical fight against LARA’s decisions

Dr. Pol has faced prior allegations of negligent practices. In 2012, he was placed on probation following an incident from April 2010, where he inaccurately interpreted a canine ultrasound.

Additionally, in 2014, another veterinarian lodged a complaint against Dr. Pol, asserting that during surgery on a Boston terrier injured by a car, he did not adhere to sterile surgical attire protocols. In response, LARA imposed a $500 fine and a year-long probation.

However, in 2016, the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned LARA’s disciplinary measures, citing insufficient evidence.

What’s next for the ‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’?

Dr. Pol, a seasoned veterinarian who has been serving pets and livestock in rural Michigan since the 1970s, boasts a remarkable record of tending to over 20,000 patients, as reported by IMDb.

His television show chronicles his travels across rural Michigan, where he offers care to animals of varying species and sizes, ranging from puppies to cows to snakes. Currently in its 16th season, the show has garnered widespread popularity.

Despite the recent ruling against him, Dr. Pol maintains a strong support base, with several past disciplinary actions being overturned. His attorney, Christopher S. Patterson, JD, remains confident amidst the appeals process, asserting that it will not adversely affect the TV show.

Patterson criticizes the Michigan Veterinary Board’s decision-making process, labeling it as arbitrary. He emphasizes that previous challenges against the Board have resulted in successful reversals by the Michigan Court of Appeals, citing agreement from the Board itself regarding Dr. Pol’s competent care. Patterson affirms Dr. Pol’s commitment to challenging the Board until a fair and rational review process is established for veterinary care.

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