The RCVS Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee has directed that London-based veterinary nurse Paul Chaney is removed from the Register after he was found guilty of a stealing, possessing and unlawfully administering various veterinary drugs, and that he dishonestly made and deleted clinical records about his own dog. 

Mr Chaney was charged with stealing Trazadone and Metacam from the Hampstead practice he worked at, and of unlawfully possessing Trazadone and Metacam. He was also charged with unlawfully administering Butorphanol to a dog and failing to record the administration of the drug in the dogs records. He was also charged with making and deleting false entries into the clinical records of his own dog to the effect that it had been seen by a vet at the practice and that Metacam had been prescribed. The final charge was that his conduct over the false records was dishonest and misleading. 

The Committee heard that Mr Chaney’s conduct in relation to the first two charges was discovered when, in July 2018, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), accompanied by police officers, executed a warrant (for unrelated matters) on the property where he lived. During the course of the search, police officers found Metacam and Trazadone in Mr Chaney’s bedroom which did not seem to have a prescription and so Defra officers launched an investigation.

During the course of this investigation, a Defra investigator was also provided with a video and messages that indicated Mr Chaney had unlawfully administered Butorphanol to a Husky dog in frustration with the animal as it was being too noisy.

The Committee heard that, in November 2018, Mr Chaney accepted a police caution in relation to his possession of Trazadone and Metacam, and the unlawful administration of Butorphanol. The Committee also heard that following the police attending his property and finding the medicines, Mr Chaney went on to create false records at the practice in relation to the examination of his dog in order to justify his unlawful possession of the drugs.

The Committee found all the charges against Mr Chaney proven.

The Committee then went on to consider if the charges, taken both individually and in totality, amounted to disgraceful conduct in a professional capacity. 

Judith Way, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: "The Committee had no doubt that administering a sedative to an animal that required prescription by a veterinary surgeon and then failing to record it in the clinical record with the resultant risk to the animal’s welfare due to lack of knowledge of the administration fell far below the expected standard.

"The Committee also considered that possession of prescription only medicines by a registered veterinary nurse, without the sanction of law, having stolen the same from a practice also fell far below the expected standard.

“The Committee also considered that tampering with the clinical record for a dog, in order to create a misleading impression and in doing so dishonestly, was conduct which fell far below the expected standard.

“Taken as a whole, the Committee considered that Mr Chaney’s conduct had fallen far below the expected standard.”

The Committee therefore found him guilty of disgraceful conduct in a professional capacity in relation to all seven charges.

It next went on to consider what sanction, if any, to impose taking into account the aggravating and mitigating factors.

In considering the aggravating factors, the Committee took into account that Mr Chaney’s conduct had presented a risk of injury to the animal and that much of his conduct was pre-meditated. It also considered that Mr Chaney’s conduct involved a breach of trust to both the practice where he was employed and the owner of the Husky, and it was also an abuse of position in gaining access to and stealing medication. Lastly, because the charges related to two separate incidents, there was a common thread in Mr Chaney disregarding rules on veterinary medicines.

In mitigation, the Committee considered that Mr Chaney had reflected on and gained some insight into  his behaviour, and acknowledged he had made admissions at the outset of the hearing, including apologising for and showing regret about aspects of his conduct.

However, the Committee did not believe he had addressed his understanding of the effect that this conduct had on the risk to animals, the standards of the profession or the maintenance of public confidence in the profession. In mitigation the Committee also considered a number of positive character references and his previous good character.

Judith Way said: “The Committee determined that it would not be sufficient in the circumstances of the case, to satisfy the public interest to suspend the Respondent’s registration. In its view this case involved a serious departure from identified professional standards. The disregard had been deliberate, in relation to ignoring legislation in respect of prescription-only medication and dishonesty in stealing medication.

"There was evidence of attitudinal issues in relation to that behaviour and insufficient evidence of the development of insight. The dishonesty in relation to the clinical record relating to dog O [his own dog] had been an attempt to conceal earlier dishonesty relating to the theft of the medication. In administering the Butorphanol to dog L [the Husky], Mr Chaney had been putting his own interests in quieting the dog ahead of the dog’s interests, which would have required checking with a veterinary surgeon as to appropriate steps.

"The Committee acknowledged that, by directing removal, there would likely be professional reputational damage to Mr Chaney and possible financial loss. However, in the view of the Committee the requirements of the public interest outweighed these factors.”

Accordingly, the Registrar of the RCVS was directed to remove Mr Chaney’s name from the Register of Veterinary Nurses.

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