Michigan appeals court finds in favor of Dr. Pol

Michigan appeals court finds in favor of Dr. Pol

Overturns disciplinary action ordered by state regulatory board in relation to negligence, incompetence findings.
Jul 01, 2016

Jan Pol, DVM, owner of Pol Veterinary Services in Weidman, Michigan, holds Mr. Pigglesworth, who is owned by Mable and Loyd Frisbie, at right. (Photo courtesy of Nancy McCarty Iannios, Core PR Group)Disciplinary action taken against Jan Pol, DVM, star of Nat Geo Wild's The Incredible Dr. Pol, by the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Association (LARA), in regard to an administrative complaint filed against him in 2014, has been overturned on appeal. The Michigan Court of Appeals found 3-0 in favor of Pol, overturning the $500 fine and year of probation LARA had ordered.

The complaint, filed by Eden Myers, DVM, who was concerned about the treatment of a patient featured on the television show, resulted in charges of negligence and incompetence at the administrative hearing. The patient in question, a Boston terrier named Mr. Pigglesworth, had been hit by a car and suffered from lacerations, a broken pelvis and an eye that was hanging from the socket.

During surgery to remove the eye, suture the eye socket closed and suture a cheek laceration, Pol didn't wear sterile surgical attire, according to Myers’ complaint. Also at issue was the fact that Pol’s unlicensed son, Charles, assisted in the surgery and that Pol did not provide intravenous therapy to the dog during the surgical procedure or a warming support in the dog’s postoperative kennel, according to the complaint.

In the appeals court’s decision, in which judges refer to the "curious case of Mr. Pigglesworth," the judges seem perplexed that Pol was reprimanded when the dog in question survived and its owners were happy with its care. They found that the sanctions imposed by the regulatory board were not supported by the evidence given.

"We cannot conclude that the administrative decision in this case is supported by competent, material and substantial evidence on the whole record. The evidence submitted does not establish a clear standard of care that respondent violated," the court’s opinion states. "Given the numerous references in the [proposal for decision] that go outside the scope of the allegations in the complaint, references to items not in the record, and the hearing officer’s own opinion as to the need for mandatory continuing education and a formal standard of care, it can even be said that the decision is ultimately arbitrary and capricious."

Pol told dvm360 in a statement that he is "pleased but not surprised by the ruling of the State of Michigan Court of Appeals to overturn the findings of the Michigan Bureau of Health Care Services board. The ruling reaffirms what I have always known, that the care we gave Mr. Pigglesworth was appropriate and saved the dog’s life. I will continue to advocate for common sense, affordable vet care within the veterinarian community. I am thankful for the support I received from the farmers and ranchers who are my clients, and for National Geographic Channel for standing with me on this issue."

A spokesman for LARA declined to comment, saying that the board needs to review the decision with the Michigan Attorney General's office. Myers told dvm360 that she did her part and the authorities in Michigan took it from there. "The profession of each state gets to regulate itself as the community of that state sees fit," she said. "Michigan gets to be the way Michigan wants to be."


Do any of you read the disclaimer at the beginning of every show? Says that it does not show complete procedures that things are edited. And no he may not be totally in line with all the new updated things but his clients and patients show he is very good at what he does and cares about what he is doing. Ya can't please everyone I guess but he has an incredible following in his practice. Not talking about his tv show. I wish we had someone like him in our area I would take my critters there in a heartbeat. I hope he has many more years of taking care of the animals in his area and keeps on caring about them more then the options of people who are more interested in being right then informed.

Haters gonna hate

Wow guys. You all jealous much? Get your attitudes right and maybe, just maybe Dr. Pol will let you all be a guest on his show sometime. I mean the guy has to be doing something right. Having over 20,000 happy clients speaks LOUDLY for itself. I wish there were more veterinarians like him out there. He cares more for his clients and patients than the almighty dollar. You ROCK Dr. Pol and staff. Keep up the good work!!

Board can't properly establish a case??

It appears to me from the availible reading items that the Michigan Board did not know how to properly conduct the investigation or proceedings. Perhaps they should have consulted with a lawyer knowing right up front that this is a high profile case.
Failing to provide "competent, material and substantial evidence" along with inability to establish a definition for "standard of care" then referencing items that are completely outside the scope of the allegations looks like the board was out to get Dr. Pol. They presented a pitiful case against Dr. Pol, appeared to have a lack of understanding of their legal responsibility to PROVE the case and were not even able to competently state the current standard of care. How do you prove a violation when you can't state what has actually been violated even if you state the standard simplistically such as "using physical barriers to prevent infection."
I am pretty disgusted that a Board comprised of educated people didn't know enough to present a logical case and/or seek competent counsel prior to making decisions about a veterinarian's livelihood.
A group of people who can't competently fulfill their job obligation by presenting a stream of logic supported by evidence need to reevaluate the precedures and standards that they use to make any case against any complaint that comes before them. This feels like a regulatory board acting like this is the day of the good ole boys railroading their decisions thru and they got busted.
They made it look like they were out to get Dr. Pol. The board WAS "arbitrary and capricious."
Shame on the Michigan Board. This should have been a slam dunk after all their is video...........

Dr Pol

I don't feel that the Michigan Court of Appeals should have any say in what the Michigan State Veterinary Board decides. They are not veterinarians nor medical personnel, and are no better than the general public at deciding a matter such as this. What Dr. Pol does off camera is one thing, and I hope he has good malpractice insurance. But to perform as he does on camera, and have such obvious disregard toward standards of care, hurts the entire veterinary profession. In California, we are not allowed to have a radio in our surgery suite, but Dr. Pol has no problem enucleating an eye without proper sterile technique. I'm glad the dog recovered and is doing well, but I hope that the decision by the Court of Appeals does not result in Dr. Pol causing severe harm to an animal in the future.

TV channels are deceiving the public

It is really a shame that the National Geographic and Animal Planet glorify substandard veterinary care. Just because the patient is an animal doesn't mean it is acceptable to practice poor medical practices. This isn't the 1800s before human doctors learned that washing your hands, wearing hat, gowns and sterile gloves and use sterile equipment was the way to save human lives that died from post surgical infections. Why is it ok for Dr. Pol to place his ungloved hand in a cow's uterus to pull a calf but it isn't ok for a human doctor to place their ungloved hand in a woman's uterus? Why is it ok for him to perform surgery in an unsterile area without hat, mask, or anesthesia and a human doctor isn't? These TV shows give the impression that substandard medicine is ok as long as the patient lives. Affordable pet care is available without resorting to poor medicine and hope that the pet is strong enough to survive or you get lucky. They should be ashamed of themselves for confusing and deceiving the public by airing shows like Dr. Pol and some of the others seen on Animal Planet.

Deceiving? Or lack of paying attention to DISCLAIMERS!

I am no vet but I am an animal lover and I would take my pets to Dr. Pol in a heartbeat if he was closer to where I live. I watch the shows regularly for the past few years. They post a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode stating they are not showing everything. However, I have never seen him (or any of his vets) not use anesthesia when needed/appropriate, and when he is in his office he is in a sterile environment. Being a large animal vet, I don't know of any way he can truly perform procedures in a sterile environment when he has to work outdoors or in a barn, but he normally wears long gloves that go up to his shoulder when he is sticking his hand up some poor animals behind!

It IS television and they do not have time to show it all in a 1 hour program! Get real!

CE requirement

So now that the disciplinary action was overturned, does Dr. Pol find that the CE he was forced to attend was a waste of time? I'd hate to think that he had to endure learning about sterile technique and pain management.


As a veterinarian I would love to be able over turn legal decisions I don't like.

Isn't the reason to have professional boards to review professionals performance by pier review? Who better to provide the best review of a professional than someone intimately involved in the profession?

Dr. Pol's medical care of the case in question is so far below any modern medical standard it would be laughable if it were not so sad. Getting lucky with sloppy dangerous care does not make it appropriate or acceptable.

So my question is does this set a new legal president to provide substandard care?