Fingerprint mix-up leaves some CA veterinarians unlicensed

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Fingerprint mix-up leaves some CA veterinarians unlicensed

Last year, some California veterinarians began getting strange and disturbing surprises. For example, businesses like pharmaceutical suppliers started treating these doctors like they hardly existed, almost as if they were not really veterinarians.

When the vets asked why these firms had suddenly turned their back, a customer service representative would break the news that the veterinarians had no valid license to practice in California.

After eight quiet years, fingerprints seem mission-critical

What caused this apparent threat to the continuity of care for these doctors’ patients, and to the ability of these small businesses to serve their customers? The answer is a glitch in a new computer function, along with a communication failure.

California requires a full set of fingerprints from anyone applying for a professional license. The state enacted this rule in 1997 when a physical (analog) set of prints was fine. But since 2012, the law requires an electronic set of fingerprints from anyone renewing their license.

So far, this regulatory burden may sound easy enough to bear.

However, until last year the state’s computer system for these renewals could not check if a fingerprint set existed. But in May 2019, the state’s new computer system (“BreEZe”) began checking for the presence of electronic fingerprint files. If no electronic prints existed, the system began sending out the usual renewal notices along with a brief note asking the veterinarian to supply a fresh set of prints.

California accepts their payments but pharmacies refuse

An article at the Veterinary Information Network news service describes the crises two California veterinarians experienced because of this series of events.

Both renewed their license online without consulting a renewal notice. One followed his usual procedure of renewing online well before his license expires and without waiting for a reminder from the state to arrive in the mail. The other never got a renewal notice, possibly because the 2018 wildfires destroyed her town, Paradise. She relocated and BreEZe did not keep up.

Both doctors report the renewal system accepted their payment (“they cashed my renewal check”) and gave no indication there was anything else they needed to do. Both learned from drug companies that they were practicing without a license.

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