Veterinarian Tejpaul Ghumman, who owns Alta View Animal Hospital in Mountain View, is facing the possible revocation of his license and the closure of his clinic by state regulators.
Ghumman was already on probation from the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) due to disciplinary action taken against him in 2014. The board, which licenses and disciplines veterinarians, recently released a new complaint that alleges 86 violations of the law by Ghumman, involving nearly two dozen cases over almost 10 years.
Fourteen of these cases prompting disciplinary action occurred after Ghumman had already been placed on probation.
The action was filed on Jan. 19 by the state Attorney General, who handles serious disciplinary cases seeking the revocation of licenses on behalf of the VMB.
The 63-page complaint, called an "accusation," alleges that Ghumman and Alta View were negligent in their care of animals and engaged in unprofessional conduct that includes: failure to provide humane treatment; false advertising; acting as a pharmacy by compounding drugs; negligence and incompetence in administering medication; and numerous record-keeping violations. The details are spelled out as "causes for discipline" in 22 cases, including one in which a 13-year-old dog died and several others in which the complaint charges that puppies weren't given any pain medication during or after surgery.
Ghumman and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment by the Voice's press deadline.
One of the cases scrutinized by state regulators involved a 13-year-old dog named Lena that was brought to the clinic last March with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. Among the violations alleged in the complaint were administering drugs at much higher than recommended doses and that hadn't been on the market for years or that were contraindicated, and performing unauthorized tests. One of the drugs, Metacam, was given at a dose eight to 16 times higher than recommended for a dog of Lena's weight, according to the complaint. The filing also states that Ghumman did not perform CPR when Lena's condition became critical, and that the dog died shortly thereafter.
The complaint noted that Ghumman's records showed scant details of a physical examination, diagnosis, treatment plan or a disposition for Lena.
It accused Ghumman of multiple counts of professional negligence, deception and unprofessional record-keeping related his treatment of Lena.
A pattern of similar professional lapses show up in the other 21 cases investigated by VMB and detailed in its complaint.
In nearly all the cases Ghumman is alleged to have failed to follow record-keeping standards, often neglecting to write out a diagnosis or give basic details from a physical exam. The accusation repeatedly alleged that he failed to specify details of the vaccinations or drugs he administered, or their quantities. In one instance, Ghumman failed to note the species of the animal he was treating, according to the complaint.
The accusations detailed in the filing show a pattern of alleged negligence in administering drugs. For example, cats were given antibiotics in dosages that exceeded recommended amounts, which risked causing blindness. Scheduling and dosage instructions for drugs were not followed, and Ghumman's records showed he compounded or mixed drugs himself, which he was not authorized to do, according to the complaint.
The VMB complaint alleges that on several occasions, Ghumman kept no record of giving animals pain medication before, during or after invasive medical procedures, which is required by law. These cases includes four instances when puppies from Copper's Dream animal rescue in Sunnyvale were spayed or neutered, with no record of any pain medication being given. In the filing, Ghumman is alleged to have provided inhumane treatment in eight different cases.
The complaint also points out the Alta View Animal Hospital was using forms and documents from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the accrediting body for U.S. veterinary clinics. But Alta View was not an AAHA member and was not accredited by the group, according to the vet board's allegations, leading to the charges of false advertising.
Some of the cases investigated were brought to the attention of the VMB through complaints filed by Alta View clients. Among them was the complaint filed by Irina Badea and Jim Frimmel, a Mountain View couple who spoke to the Voice last year and blamed Ghumman for the death of their dog, BooBoo. Eighteen other cases referenced in the complaint came about through a review by VMB officials of Alta View's records.
Badea said she felt vindicated to see that government officials were pursuing BooBoo's case, but that it was shocking to read so many other accounts of animals being harmed.
"As you read this, you can just feel the people are totally heartbroken," she said.
Ghumman's license was previously revoked by the Veterinary Medical Board in 2014, but in a settlement agreement, he was instead placed on probation for four years under certain conditions, including that he "obey all federal and state laws and regulations substantially related to the practice of veterinary medicine," according to the filing. According to the settlement agreement signed by Ghumman, he admitted to numerous violations, including to falsifying records.
The Jan. 19 complaint against Ghumman notes that the premises permit for Alta View expired on May 31, 2017, indicating that the facility is in violation for continuing to provide treatment past that date.
Ghumman and his attorneys have 30 days to respond to the allegations. After that, the case will be adjudicated by the 13-member Veterinary Medical Board. The charges could result in a $5,000 penalty for any of the violations alleged, according to the complaint. Ghumman could also be ordered to pay the cost of the investigation and enforcement.
Unless Ghumman and the Veterinary Board reach an agreement to settle the case, a hearing will be held before an Administrative Law Judge, who will then have 30 days to issue a proposed decision. This decision will go to the Veterinary Medical Board, which may accept, reject or modify it.
A defendant can appeal the decision by petitioning to have it be reconsidered, but the board has discretion to decide whether to grant the reconsideration.