Do Pre-Purchase Exams Put Vets At Risk?

by | 07.25.2016 | 7:30am

Pre-purchase exams (PPE) are common in the sale of horses; a veterinarian is asked to do a thorough health analysis on a horse that is being sold to ensure it is healthy enough for the intended career with its new owner.

However, though these exams are common, they may place the veterinarian examining the horse at risk: What if the vet passes the horse, then it later shows signs of an issue that went undetected during the exam?

British equine veterinarian Dr. Bruce Bladon lectured on this issue at the Equine Veterinarians Australia Bain Fallon conference, explaining what both veterinarian and buyer need to be aware of when a PPE takes place. Bladon has been called upon as an expert witness in equine insurance cases where professional negligence is suspected. He says that although each case is unique, the lawsuit is always similar: The buyer of the horse tries to make a claim with the equine insurance company. When that claim is denied, they go after the vet who performed the PPE, stating that a condition the horse develops after purchase was “missed” by the vet and he is therefore negligent.

Bladon reminded the attendees that vets are not supposed to pass or fail a horse during a PPE; instead, the vet is to provide information to the potential buyer about existing medical problems and explain possible future issues, all within the parameters of the horse's intended use with his new owner. He reminded the vets that there are a few key things to remember during PPEs:

  • Communicate the findings with the client by writing it down
  • Obtain the full medical history of the horse and get permission to share it with the potential buyer

Bladon also warns that if permission to share the horse's medical history with the potential purchaser is denied, that the vet should consider declining the exam.

Read more at Horse Talk

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