News

State revokes Mountain View veterinarian's license following string of complaints by pet owners

Veterinarian Tejpaul Ghumman, who runs Alta View Animal Hospital, had his license to practice revoked. Photo by Michelle Le

The veterinarian running Alta View Animal Hospital lost his license to practice medicine this month, after state officials found dozens of instances of unprofessional conduct, incorrect prescriptions and errors in animal care.

The decision to revoke the license of Tejpaul Ghumman, which took effect July 13, comes after four local pet owners came forward in 2017 with complaints about the treatment of their animals, two of which died during or after being treated at Alta View. A total of 53 violations were alleged, about half of which were sustained in court.

Ghumman is challenging the decision in a new civil case, however, contending that the revocation of his license was excessive and based on erroneous findings. An attempt to reinstate Ghumman's license during the challenge failed last week.

Ghumman had been operating the animal hospital, located near the San Antonio shopping center on Showers Drive in Mountain View, on a probationary license since 2014. At the time, the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) found he failed to properly treat a cat with kidney failure and was illegally operating an online pharmacy. Alta View received more than 1 million tablets of prescribed medications including 287,520 tablets of Phenylpropanolamine, which can be used to make methamphetamine.

The dog Lena (center, in light pink) died while being treated at Alta View Animal Hospital in Mountain View. The case is detailed in the complaint released by the California Veterinary Medical Board. Photo courtesy of Van V.

Later, complaints arose alleging that Ghumman was providing poor care to pets, including errors in emergency care for one dog, Lena, who died in 2017. The vet board found that Ghumman was negligent in that he failed to provide frequent doses of epinephrine to Lena while she was experiencing cardiac respiratory arrest.

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The vet board also found numerous record-keeping violations: Physical exams were either not being performed when required, or at the very least were not being documented, and that Ghumman failed to provide full medical records to owners in a timely manner.

State officials revoked Ghumman's veterinarian license as well as his "premises license" that allows him to operate Alta View Animal Hospital. Ghumman's attorney, Michael Firestone, said the location remains open for business under another entity, and that Ghumman is still working there -- albeit only in back office operations.

One of the owners who testified against Ghumman, Courtney Batterson, said she was "relieved beyond words" that his license was finally revoked. She had gone to Alta View to have her dog Mabel spayed after adoption, a procedure that she believes was botched. Batterson said it worries her that the animal shelter she used -- Copper's Dream Rescue -- continued to guide new pet owners to Alta View despite the long list of alleged violations.

"For the past three years I was aware, in the back of my mind, that new clients were going to Alta View Animal Hospital deceived, trusting Dr. Ghumman and his staff to properly and ethically diagnose, treat, and operate on their pets," she said.

Irina Badea and Jim Frimmel, who lodged a complaint against Ghumman over the treatment of their dog BooBoo, called the revocation a victory for veterinarians, community members and pets. But it didn't have to take so long, and shouldn't have been so difficult.

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"It's a shame that the process of removing a license is so difficult," Frimmel said. "Going forward, we want to work to give the board a stronger hand and to give pet owners the ability to sue for more than just the dollar value of a pet."

Veterinary license revocation is handled differently than criminal or civil matters, and is decided by an administrative court. The vet board made allegations against Ghumman in 2018 and petitioned to revoke his license, with the California Attorney General's Office acting as the prosecution, and an administrative law judge determined earlier this year that there was enough evidence to support the revocation.

Appealing the ruling

But the fight continues. Firestone recently filed a challenge to the ruling in San Francisco Superior Court, arguing that the vet board overstepped in taking away Ghumman's license. The most egregious allegations had been successfully challenged, he said, and the remaining violations are mostly related to bookkeeping and discrepancies between paper and medical records -- hardly mistakes that warrant the loss of a license.

"Under the circumstances, the totality of the evidence doesn't suggest that Dr. Ghumman was a deceitful, money-hungry, reckless doctor, which they make it sound like in the accusation," Firestone said. "Revocation of a doctor's license -- the functional equivalent of a professional death penalty -- is an extraordinary act which must never occur without a sufficient record to support it."

Several character witnesses supporting Ghumman described him as a trustworthy and capable veterinarian, some relying on his care for their pets going back more than 20 years. One of the owners, Craig Dremann, testified at an administrative hearing that it would be a "great loss to the community" if Ghumman were to lose his license, according to court documents.

Prosecutors from the attorney general's office disagree. Deputy Attorney General Judith Loach, in opposing a stay on the revocation, wrote that Ghumman has for years "endangered his patients, flouted the law and told shameless lies about his qualifications and his activities." His actions amount to gross negligence that has injured his patients, she argued, and that the revocation was necessary to protect the public.

Loach pointed to numerous instances in which Ghumman had been dishonest to his patients, using paperwork with the American Animal Hospital Association when he was not accredited by the organization, and attempting to enter what she called a "hush money" agreement with Badea. After BooBoo was euthanized, a veterinarian working at Alta View offered the owners an illegal settlement agreement that offered them $749 in exchange for them not contacting the vet board with a complaint. The owners never signed the document.

Even during the hearing, Loach wrote that Ghumman continued his penchant for dishonesty. He entered a settlement in 2014 admitting that he operated an illegal online pharmacy, yet continued to testify that the allegations are untrue.

"Pure and simple: Ghumman is a danger to the community of pet owners in Mountain View, California," Loach said in her opposition. "He, in essence, thumbed his nose at the VMB and its probationary conditions. And then the client complaints were lodged with the VMB and there clearly emerged a repetitive pattern of a dishonest veterinarian who was negligent and incompetent in the practice of veterinary medicine."

Representatives from the California Attorney General's office declined to comment on the revocation, deferring to the Veterinary Medical Board. Members of the vet board did not respond to requests for comment as of Monday.

Badea and Frimmel, BooBoo's owners, said the victory in administrative court was clouded somewhat by the immediate challenge in San Francisco to overturn the decision. Badea said she was concerned to hear Ghumman is still working in some capacity at Alta View after he lost his license, and said she had little confidence confidence that the state is equipped or interested in enforcing its own decisions.

"We are basically at the mercy of a future judge," she said.

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State revokes Mountain View veterinarian's license following string of complaints by pet owners

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Jul 27, 2020, 1:53 pm

The veterinarian running Alta View Animal Hospital lost his license to practice medicine this month, after state officials found dozens of instances of unprofessional conduct, incorrect prescriptions and errors in animal care.

The decision to revoke the license of Tejpaul Ghumman, which took effect July 13, comes after four local pet owners came forward in 2017 with complaints about the treatment of their animals, two of which died during or after being treated at Alta View. A total of 53 violations were alleged, about half of which were sustained in court.

Ghumman is challenging the decision in a new civil case, however, contending that the revocation of his license was excessive and based on erroneous findings. An attempt to reinstate Ghumman's license during the challenge failed last week.

Ghumman had been operating the animal hospital, located near the San Antonio shopping center on Showers Drive in Mountain View, on a probationary license since 2014. At the time, the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) found he failed to properly treat a cat with kidney failure and was illegally operating an online pharmacy. Alta View received more than 1 million tablets of prescribed medications including 287,520 tablets of Phenylpropanolamine, which can be used to make methamphetamine.

Later, complaints arose alleging that Ghumman was providing poor care to pets, including errors in emergency care for one dog, Lena, who died in 2017. The vet board found that Ghumman was negligent in that he failed to provide frequent doses of epinephrine to Lena while she was experiencing cardiac respiratory arrest.

The vet board also found numerous record-keeping violations: Physical exams were either not being performed when required, or at the very least were not being documented, and that Ghumman failed to provide full medical records to owners in a timely manner.

State officials revoked Ghumman's veterinarian license as well as his "premises license" that allows him to operate Alta View Animal Hospital. Ghumman's attorney, Michael Firestone, said the location remains open for business under another entity, and that Ghumman is still working there -- albeit only in back office operations.

One of the owners who testified against Ghumman, Courtney Batterson, said she was "relieved beyond words" that his license was finally revoked. She had gone to Alta View to have her dog Mabel spayed after adoption, a procedure that she believes was botched. Batterson said it worries her that the animal shelter she used -- Copper's Dream Rescue -- continued to guide new pet owners to Alta View despite the long list of alleged violations.

"For the past three years I was aware, in the back of my mind, that new clients were going to Alta View Animal Hospital deceived, trusting Dr. Ghumman and his staff to properly and ethically diagnose, treat, and operate on their pets," she said.

Irina Badea and Jim Frimmel, who lodged a complaint against Ghumman over the treatment of their dog BooBoo, called the revocation a victory for veterinarians, community members and pets. But it didn't have to take so long, and shouldn't have been so difficult.

"It's a shame that the process of removing a license is so difficult," Frimmel said. "Going forward, we want to work to give the board a stronger hand and to give pet owners the ability to sue for more than just the dollar value of a pet."

Veterinary license revocation is handled differently than criminal or civil matters, and is decided by an administrative court. The vet board made allegations against Ghumman in 2018 and petitioned to revoke his license, with the California Attorney General's Office acting as the prosecution, and an administrative law judge determined earlier this year that there was enough evidence to support the revocation.

Appealing the ruling

But the fight continues. Firestone recently filed a challenge to the ruling in San Francisco Superior Court, arguing that the vet board overstepped in taking away Ghumman's license. The most egregious allegations had been successfully challenged, he said, and the remaining violations are mostly related to bookkeeping and discrepancies between paper and medical records -- hardly mistakes that warrant the loss of a license.

"Under the circumstances, the totality of the evidence doesn't suggest that Dr. Ghumman was a deceitful, money-hungry, reckless doctor, which they make it sound like in the accusation," Firestone said. "Revocation of a doctor's license -- the functional equivalent of a professional death penalty -- is an extraordinary act which must never occur without a sufficient record to support it."

Several character witnesses supporting Ghumman described him as a trustworthy and capable veterinarian, some relying on his care for their pets going back more than 20 years. One of the owners, Craig Dremann, testified at an administrative hearing that it would be a "great loss to the community" if Ghumman were to lose his license, according to court documents.

Prosecutors from the attorney general's office disagree. Deputy Attorney General Judith Loach, in opposing a stay on the revocation, wrote that Ghumman has for years "endangered his patients, flouted the law and told shameless lies about his qualifications and his activities." His actions amount to gross negligence that has injured his patients, she argued, and that the revocation was necessary to protect the public.

Loach pointed to numerous instances in which Ghumman had been dishonest to his patients, using paperwork with the American Animal Hospital Association when he was not accredited by the organization, and attempting to enter what she called a "hush money" agreement with Badea. After BooBoo was euthanized, a veterinarian working at Alta View offered the owners an illegal settlement agreement that offered them $749 in exchange for them not contacting the vet board with a complaint. The owners never signed the document.

Even during the hearing, Loach wrote that Ghumman continued his penchant for dishonesty. He entered a settlement in 2014 admitting that he operated an illegal online pharmacy, yet continued to testify that the allegations are untrue.

"Pure and simple: Ghumman is a danger to the community of pet owners in Mountain View, California," Loach said in her opposition. "He, in essence, thumbed his nose at the VMB and its probationary conditions. And then the client complaints were lodged with the VMB and there clearly emerged a repetitive pattern of a dishonest veterinarian who was negligent and incompetent in the practice of veterinary medicine."

Representatives from the California Attorney General's office declined to comment on the revocation, deferring to the Veterinary Medical Board. Members of the vet board did not respond to requests for comment as of Monday.

Badea and Frimmel, BooBoo's owners, said the victory in administrative court was clouded somewhat by the immediate challenge in San Francisco to overturn the decision. Badea said she was concerned to hear Ghumman is still working in some capacity at Alta View after he lost his license, and said she had little confidence confidence that the state is equipped or interested in enforcing its own decisions.

"We are basically at the mercy of a future judge," she said.

Comments

B Rose
Sylvan Park
on Jul 27, 2020 at 2:19 pm
B Rose, Sylvan Park
on Jul 27, 2020 at 2:19 pm
15 people like this

In all my 20+ years in Mountain View, Alta Veterinarian Hospital has always been a problem caring for animals. Surprised it has not been shut down before now. There is a better Veterinarian across the street on El Camino. They even care for birds.


Dan Waylonis
Jackson Park
on Jul 27, 2020 at 2:32 pm
Dan Waylonis, Jackson Park
on Jul 27, 2020 at 2:32 pm
7 people like this

I went there once and never again. Adobe Animal Hospital on El Camino is full of professionals who actually care about your animals. Highly recommended.


Oprah
Gemello
on Jul 27, 2020 at 6:11 pm
Oprah, Gemello
on Jul 27, 2020 at 6:11 pm
4 people like this

Check out Arroyo Animal Clinic near El Camino in Sunnyvale. They care and don' t charge an arm and a leg - or even a tail. As to the former vet still working behind the scenes at Alta, any customer can sue for unlawful business practices and shut down the business.


JustSayIn
Monta Loma
on Jul 28, 2020 at 8:13 am
JustSayIn, Monta Loma
on Jul 28, 2020 at 8:13 am
8 people like this

Re: Dan Waylonis, Jackson Park

Adobe Animal Hospital is very good, but they are also very expensive.

There are other competent Vets in the area that do not charge an arm and a leg.
/ᐠ。ꞈ。ᐟ\


LouraK
another community
on Jul 28, 2020 at 11:59 am
LouraK, another community
on Jul 28, 2020 at 11:59 am
13 people like this


We have taken our pets to Alta View Animal Hospital, more specifically to Dr Paul Ghumman for the last 22+ years. Dr. Ghumman is the one and only animal doctor we have allowed to treat our pets. Our dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters, geckos and gerbils have all been taken care of by Dr Ghumman himself. His treatment of animals is truly impeccable. When our fur babies need any type of treatment we personally request that only Dr Ghumman be the one to diagnose and treat them.
Dr Ghumman has never overcharged us for anything at our visits whether it was an emergency drop-in or a planned appointment. He has never once advised us to do any kind of diagnostic testing that wasn’t absolutely needed to treat or diagnose the given problem at hand. Instead he has always taken the time and worked with us to find the best possible treatment.
Just a few examples;
When our beagle Roxy needed to be spayed, Dr Ghumman knew that our family wanted her home that same night. Dr Ghumman said that if Roxy looks stable enough at 7 PM, knowing that we would be watching over her the entire night, that he would let us take her home. Shortly after 7 PM the phone call came that Roxy could be nursed by us at home. Dr. Ghumman also gave me his cell number to call if there were any problems during the night. The following morning Dr Ghumman called first thing to check on her status. Roxy was doing great and happier than ever because she was home with her family and other pets.
When our Toy Yorkshire Gizmo had one of his rear knees go out on him, Dr Ghumman surgically secured the ligament and Gizmo was good as new. At that time I asked Dr Ghumman if he could surgically secure the other rear knee (on his good leg which had no issues) just so we didn’t have to go through this twice. He said “no, it wasn’t necessary”.
When one of our kitties Mookie2 was having kidney issues, Dr Ghumman worked with us to give Mookie2 the best quality of life that he could have. With the help of fluids and diet Dr Ghumman helped give Mookie2 a much better life and we were able to keep Mookie2 for an additional two years. At one point Dr Ghumman actually made a house call to treat Mookie2 in the comfort of our own home so as to not cause the kitty extra stress and anxiety. That was over and above in my opinion once again.
When our beagle O.D. was at the end of his life, I phone Dr Ghumman up during the afternoon and asked if he would come to our home to put O.D. to sleep that night. As the day went on I changed my mind and I wanted to wait. I phoned Dr Ghumman to let him know and he said for me to call him in the morning to let him know how O.D. was. Well, Dr Ghumman didn’t get the chance for me to call the next morning because O.D. had passed peacefully with me at 5:30 AM. My daughter and I were waiting at Dr Ghumman ‘s office when he arrived at work.
Dr Ghumman has gone over and above to help keep our pets (babies) healthy and well. We have gone through a number of pet deaths over the years and not once was it because of something Dr. Ghumman did or did not do. In each and every case Dr. Ghumman did everything he could to help find a solution for the pet.
When it came time to say goodbye to our pets, Dr. Ghumman always has taken care of things with dignity, kindness, an understanding of our loss, love and compassion for the pet and for us. He is competent and thorough in his research and diagnosing of problems. Not once have our pets been treated for something that wasn’t absolutely necessary. When it has been time to make the tougher decisions about any of our loving pets, Dr Ghumman has been honest and open with us about the seriousness of the situation. He will discuss any options that may still be available but it has always been his honesty with us that has established this trust that we hold for him. His solid honesty has proven how trustworthy he truly is.


Liz
another community
on Jul 28, 2020 at 7:51 pm
Liz , another community
on Jul 28, 2020 at 7:51 pm
9 people like this

I’ve been taking pets to Alta view for 30 plus years. Never really had an issue with their vet care. Yes, it was prohibitively expensive at times, and they refused to clean my pet’s teeth while they were under anesthesia for a different problem (which I thought was lame). They went from charging one office visit for multiple pets taken in at one time, and then changed that policy without notifying us. (even charging for an office visit when they had to vaccinate for boarding).

The drug mentioned in this article is commonly prescribed to dogs for incontinance. The implication that Ghummam was selling for the purpose of meth manufacturing is dubious. I don’t see Dr Paul as some criminal, drug dealing mastermind or Breaking Bad type situation. I’d like to see the entire list of pills and under what circumstances they were prescribed before making too harsh a judgement on that. Was he prescribing opioids to humans? At some point they stopped prescribing Tramadol for pain for pets, because they stated humans were injuring their pets to get ahold of it (which I don’t find to be too much of a stretch, considering how many dug addicts there are in the world).

dr Stearns is my favorite vet at Alta View. I hate to find a new vet and really, really hate the idea of having to find a new place to board my pets when I go out of town.


Oprah
Gemello
on Jul 28, 2020 at 7:52 pm
Oprah, Gemello
on Jul 28, 2020 at 7:52 pm
4 people like this

What is the name of each licensed vet at Alta View? The man who lost his license IS NOT LICENSED. If he is still working as a vet, he should be arrested and locked up either in jail or in a barebones kennel.


Dawn Burgess
Old Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2020 at 2:01 am
Dawn Burgess, Old Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2020 at 2:01 am
7 people like this

Dr Ghumman treated our cat for 8 years from when we brought her with us from the U.K to her passing. She finally passed away at the age of about 22 after successfully treated her for kidney failure, then overactive thyroid until she finally succumbed to heart failure. We feel he managed her conditions well and helped keep her healthy and active until the last 2 months of her life when the heart failure took her. She was still a reasonable weight and had a lovely shiny coat when she passed. He identified her heart condition within minutes of seeing her and was able to advise us accordingly. We now take our new rescue puppy there and would not hesitate to recommend him or practice.


Megan
another community
on Jul 29, 2020 at 7:53 am
Megan, another community
on Jul 29, 2020 at 7:53 am
1 person likes this

Just so every one knows... You can't cure kidney failure, you can symptomatically treat and give the cat a better quality of life.
I don't know this vet but these sound like lame accusations.
I hate when people say that our community is money hungry.
This article is also poorly written


Kevin Forestieri
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:19 am
Kevin Forestieri, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:19 am
2 people like this

@Megan

The improper treatment of a cat with renal failure was related to previous charges against Ghumman that led to his probation in 2014. While I didn't go into detail in this particular story, I encourage you to read page 11 of the .pdf embedded in the story to learn more about what happened. The fact that kidney disease is a chronic, incurable condition is beside the point.


Sandis
Shoreline West
on Jul 30, 2020 at 11:07 am
Sandis, Shoreline West
on Jul 30, 2020 at 11:07 am
Like this comment

> Just so every one knows... You can't cure kidney failure, you can symptomatically treat

Megan - please read the article
"he failed to properly treat a cat with kidney failure"


Mar
North Whisman
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:36 pm
Mar, North Whisman
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:36 pm
Like this comment

Really sad and disappointed to hear. My Great Dane passed away under their care January 2019, when questioned about the circumstance the story was not concise. The grieving of our dog made us feel like we were the ones to blame for allowing the overnight stay.


Kayla
another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:18 am
Kayla, another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:18 am
4 people like this

Dr. Ghumman and Alta View have taken excellent care of our family's orange tabby cat. I have been to several vet clinics over the years, and Alta View is our favorite. The staff are all helpful and caring. Dr. Ghumman and Dr. Suji have always explained things clearly. Dr. Ghumman even gave us his cell number. My husband and I appreciated his personal attention and make the drive from several towns over. You can tell he loves animals. The facilities and equipment at Alta View seem to be top-notch. Since Covid-19 hit, the clinic has remained open and has built a safe and efficient process to drop-off/pick-up the patient animals from the parking lot. I would not hesitate in having Dr. Ghumman and the other vets at Alta View care for any of our family's pets.


Rene Agredano
Registered user
another community
on Aug 4, 2020 at 9:09 am
Rene Agredano, another community
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2020 at 9:09 am
Like this comment

Most pet parents are unaware that veterinary clinics never need to pass annual inspections by a governing agency. Any vet can hang a sign, get a business license, and operate for decades without any inspections. They could be practicing the worst, most outdated medicine in the world and sadly, our animals cannot tell us about it. Tragically, many pet parents learn about this after a horrible experience at a clinic.

As founder of Tripawds, the world's largest community for amputee pets and their people, this situation and this vet's poor practices are yet another reason why we constantly educate our members about the importance of choosing a veterinary clinic accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Less than 12% of North American vet clinics choose to become AAHA credentialed, which requires them to adhere to a strict set of standards of care. Those who do become credentialed commit to giving a higher level of care and practicing modern medicine that our animals deserve.

If we love our pets as family, then I urge every pet parent out there to choose an AAHA clinic first. If you still want to stay with your non-AAHA vet, then please urge them to become credentialed for the sake of our animals' health and well-being.


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