A retrospective study of pet owners' complaints against veterinary practices in Türkiye (2012-2021)

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2024 May 16:1-8. doi: 10.2460/javma.23.10.0586. Online ahead of print.


Objective: The objective of this study was to examine in detail the complaints against veterinarians submitted by pet owners and evaluated by the Turkish Veterinary Medical Association in Türkiye, with the aim to create awareness among Turkish veterinarians about the nature of the complaints and how they might reduce the risk of making medical errors.

Sample: 127 files of complaints.

Methods: A total of 127 written complaints from pet owners filed between January 2012 and December 2021 were analyzed. The pet owners' complaints were subjected to a conventional content analysis to identify the primary, secondary, and tertiary themes. Each case was evaluated by a 3-level complaint-coding taxonomy. The first level included 3 domains (themes), namely clinical, management, and relationship, while the second level was ordered in a total of 7 subcategories of complaint types. Thereafter, the third-level minor themes were grouped into related subcategories.

Results: From 127 file complaints, 296 specific issues were identified. Of these, 62% were in the clinical domain, 24% in the management domain, and 14% about poor behavior of the attending veterinarians. The most common (43%) complaint was medical errors.

Clinical relevance: An increased awareness of common medical errors should be promoted among Turkish veterinarians in order to reduce the risk of negligence and malpractice.

Keywords: Turkish Veterinary Medical Association; complaint-coding taxonomy; medical errors; pet owners’ complaints; pets.