Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?
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  1. #1
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    Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    Hi I need some advice. I've got a lot to say but I'm going to try to be as brief as possible for the sake of readability. I really want help.

    Last Tuesday my English bulldog died. She was the prettiest thing I'd ever laid eyes on and was honestly the little love of my life. We celebrated her 5th birthday just two days before she died, and the shock of losing her has been harder than I can really describe.

    She hadn't necessarily been very sick the weeks before she passed, but there were a few small things going on with her that concerned us. For example she would pant when it wasn't hot in the room. We called her vet's office and they told us that panting was just something her breed did and that it wasn't cause for worry. They advised us to cool her off by giving her ice cubes. It seemed to help.

    She had been sleeping a lot too and generally had low energy, but we really hurried to his office when she started limping on her hind legs. We thought she had injured them somehow, but I remember thinking it was strange that her legs didn’t seem to hurt. I felt her joints to see if she would recoil in pain but she didn't. She was just limping for some reason. Nonetheless, Thursday afternoon my mother, brother, and sister all got in the car and took her to the vet's office. I couldn't be there because I was getting fitted for retainers at the orthodontist’s office.

    The vet told them her hip was the problem and that she needed to lose weight. He prescribed some antipain/anti-inflammatory medicine and sold them some vitamins meant to help her anal glands. The vet bill was huge of course—over $100. He even charged us $15 just to clip the dog’s nails.

    $15 to clip her nails Thursday afternoon and by Tuesday morning my brother is having her cremated. But before she died that morning I had been up all night nursing her. It was a night I will never forget. I was scared, confused, and didn’t know what was going on—if she’d gotten something. She seemed to be in so much pain. My family members were all fast asleep but I kept waking my mother and giving her updates. We knew we couldn’t wait on the vet’s office to open so by 7am my brother rushed her to the emergency room where they ran a battery of tests and eventually found that it was her uterus. She had pyometra (uterine disease). Her lethargy, panting, and weak hind legs were all symptoms of it. The pyometra caused septic peritonitis. She wasn’t going to make it… We owe $7000 for emergency tests and treatments.

    We’re grieving and we don’t really want to fight anyone. My mom just wants to pay the bill. But I don’t understand why my dog had to die 4 days after leaving the vet’s office. Why didn’t he catch this? I made understanding a little bit about animal health my business because I loved my dog, but understanding animal health is not what I’m paid nor trusted to do, not like it is for him.
    Should we take legal action?

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Remaru's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    I am so very sorry for your loss. Honestly your vet should have caught it. Pyometra is common enough that a vet should recognize the symptoms.


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    Senior Member BostonBullMama's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    On average, bulldogs tend to live a whopping 6 years because of how inbred their line is.
    Your vet is right - panting is something they do, regularly. Even when it's not hot to me (say.. 24*C) my dog will pant. Ice or a lukewarm bath typically help with this in my household.
    $100 isn't really that expensive... my dogs having surgery at the end of the month that's going to put us out $564+ - We probably spend about $100 just on his annual shots + my cats (which is another couple 100)

    Pyometra could have been avoided had you chosen to have your dog spayed.

    Pyometra is also uneasily detected if there are no outer symptoms such as obvious discomfort (pain) or pus coming from the vulva. (Closed pyometra is a more serious condition than open pyometra not only because there is no outlet for the infection but also because a diagnosis of closed pyometra can easily be missed due to its insidious nature - this will also cause peritonitis). The only way your vet *might* have caught on would have been to run bloodwork but that only *maybe* would have shown dehydration or an increased white blood cell count.

    I don't see this as malpractice.
    I know you're all hurting right now and looking for someone to blame, but this is unfortunately - one of those things that just happens.
    Last edited by BostonBullMama; 08-12-2014 at 05:13 PM.

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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    So sorry for your loss .

    Honestly, weakness in the legs, panting, lethargy---those are all such general symptoms that they could have been anything. Without classic pyo symptoms like vaginal leakage or obvious abdominal pain, I don't know if a vet would catch it the first time around. Even human doctors miss things and it's not always malpractice; just the complexity of the human (or canine) body. I think having a serious discussion with the vet might be good (without accusing or threatening, just like "what could we have looked for to prevent this?", etc.), but I'm really not sure a legal case would go anywhere. You can only sue for the monetary value of a dog in most jurisdictions anyway. So even if you won you'd get, at most, what you paid for her.

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    Senior Member Foxes&Hounds's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    Quote Originally Posted by BostonBullMama View Post
    On average, bulldogs tend to live a whopping 6 years because of how inbred their line is.
    Your vet is right - panting is something they do, regularly. Even when it's not hot to me (say.. 24*C) my dog will pant. Ice or a lukewarm bath typically help with this in my household.
    $100 isn't really that expensive... my dogs having surgery at the end of the month that's going to put us out $564+ - We probably spend about $100 just on his annual shots + my cats (which is another couple 100)

    Pyometra could have been avoided had you chosen to have your dog spayed.

    Pyometra is also uneasily detected if there are no outer symptoms such as obvious discomfort (pain) or pus coming from the vulva. (Closed pyometra is a more serious condition than open pyometra not only because there is no outlet for the infection but also because a diagnosis of closed pyometra can easily be missed due to its insidious nature - this will also cause peritonitis). The only way your vet *might* have caught on would have been to run bloodwork but that only *maybe* would have shown dehydration or an increased white blood cell count.

    I don't see this as malpractice.
    I know you're all hurting right now and looking for someone to blame, but this is unfortunately - one of those things that just happens.
    All of this, 100%

    Pyometra is an awful thing but NOT always easy to catch, especially as things happen so quickly.
    Was she off her food? Licking excessively? Drinking more than normal? Any vomiting? Puss/discharge from her rear end?
    With all due respect, if your dog was overweight with overgrown claws, it sounds like the owners were more in the wrong than a vet who most certainly does NOT deserve to be sued in this situation. Spaying would have prevented pyo.

    Sorry for your loss though, RIP bulldog.

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    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Did the vet suggest blood workup to check her out?

    I wonder (and please don't take this the wrong way...I am not wanting to be insulting, but not sure how to word it) if the vet felt that he was trying to keep costs down and didn't want to run expensive bloodwork based on the vague symptoms, and the fact that you considered 100. a huge vet bill. Bloodwork could easily have put it over 300.00.
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    Also, vets frequently offer a lot of things and many times, the owners turn it down due to the cost. He might have offered bloodwork or x-rays and your family members said no. Either of those things would have shown abnormalities that might have led to the proper diagnosis, but a vet can't do anything the owners don't want. If he offered those things, that would throw out any legal case right there.

    And, yes, it will almost always cost at least $100 to take a pet to the vet, except maybe if you're just getting shots. That's not a huge bill by any stretch.

    (Oh, also, my vet says that overweight females almost always get pyo. So if you choose to keep any future females intact, be sure to keep them lean. Well, it's healthier for any dog to be kept lean , but especially intact females)
    Last edited by Willowy; 08-12-2014 at 05:56 PM.

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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    The consultation/exam fee at my vet is over $70 alone.
    I'm sorry for your loss.
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxes&Hounds View Post
    All of this, 100%

    Pyometra is an awful thing but NOT always easy to catch, especially as things happen so quickly.
    Was she off her food? Licking excessively? Drinking more than normal? Any vomiting? Puss/discharge from her rear end?
    With all due respect, if your dog was overweight with overgrown claws, it sounds like the owners were more in the wrong than a vet who most certainly does NOT deserve to be sued in this situation. Spaying would have prevented pyo.

    Sorry for your loss though, RIP bulldog.
    how does paying for a nail trim = overgrown nails? They may have just needed their monthly trim.

    the vet should have done a full physical. Feeling the abdomen would probably have revealed the issue. If not, taking the temp would have revealed a fever, a strong indication of iinfection.

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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    I agree with the others that said those are all general symptoms, and bulldogs have soooo many health problems that unless you want a lot of testing done, they are going to be dismissed as standard bulldog problems. Pyo is hard to diagnose if not showing the "classic" symptoms, believe me I know..I had a dog that got Pyo, she showed NO symptoms at all, so how was it caught? I had just so happened to decide to get her spayed, and when they opened her up they found a raging infection in her uterus. catching it and saving her life was a coincidence! that same dog passed away last year..a mere 3 weeks after her check up where she was given a clean bill of health and the vet said she was so healthy she could see her living to 18. 3 weeks later she died. she showed no symptoms of anything being wrong, but all of a sudden she lost a lot of weight..like 3 lbs in as many days, she was acting totally normal except for this, she was eating lots, she was crazy playful, her normal self. but that weight loss concerned me so I took her to the vet, they did an x-ray, determined she had swallowed a bobby pin and it had damaged her intestines, made arrangements for surgery the following morning, she was acting so totally normal that the vets were not concerned at all, and let her come home for the night. it wasn't until the surgery the following day that they found her intestines covered in Cancer, they removed what they could, fixed the bobby pin issue, fixed her up and she was Ok. they kept her for the night, but the next day she would not eat or drink, so they kept her till she would, by that night she was normal but they kept her one more night to make sure..that night her graft failed and she died. the vets were shocked, she was seemingly fine, her surgery went well, she was acting normally the night before. when they did a necropsy they found that her entire insides had been covered in Cancer, not just her intestines, the tissue was so weak from the cancer that the stitches basically ripped her apart. she had been very very very sick, and nobody had any idea despite the numerous vet visits, and several days at a vets office and a surgery. I still get really really angry about it, and very angry because it happened overnight which they insisted on, but did not have anyone staffed. I get upset that just 3 weeks prior to this she has been given a clean bill of health. but realistically? she showed no signs of illness 3 weeks prior, heck she showed no signs of illness period aside from weight loss. even if someone had been at the vet clinic overnight..they could not have saved her.

    now my dogs showed no symptoms and your did, but my dog was not a bulldog, your dog unfortunately did not show symptoms that a vet would not expect a bulldog to exhibit. it sucks, I know, believe me, it hurt me just to type out my dogs story and that happened a year ago. I wear a small urn pendant with some of her ashes, around my neck at all times. I have lost many dogs, and she is the only dog I wear like this, because the way I lost her HURT. my other dogs I have lost, I KNEW they were sick, I had time to come to terms with it and eventually let them go but when you believe your dog to be healthy and when you have had vets(whole you trust with your pets health) confirm your dog is healthy and all of a sudden they are gone? it's an awful feeling, but if your dog isn't showing enough concerning symptoms? it's not really anyone's fault
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    Senior Member InkedMarie's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    I'm so sorry for your loss.
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    am very sorry for your loss ....

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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    I really appreciate the condolences from everyone—that means a lot to me. She was my best friend and I haven't been able to talk to anyone outside of my family about losing her. I suppose I am just angry and wanting to hold someone accountable. I just felt like we did the right thing by taking her to the vet when we thought she was sick. Having her die 4 days later was just... overwhelming. This whole month has been overwhelming. She went to the vet on July 31, her birthday was August 3, she died the morning of August 5, and then August 9 was my birthday... Worst birthday ever .

    She wasn't overweight but was a little on the heavier side of healthy. Her nails grew very quickly and she needed a trim. She was by no means a neglected or under loved dog. We didn't spay her because she had respiratory problems and we didn't want to risk the anesthesia with her when we knew it was unlikely she would ever get pregnant without us knowing. She was an inside dog who was always at our sides. We never even left her at a kennel or with friends.

    I honestly wasn’t familiar with pyometra, but as I said, animal health isn’t my profession. The vet knew she was unsprayed but never warned us of the dangers during any of her checkups. He actually owns several unspayed bulldogs himself. It just never came up. I thought the vet pill was expensive because he basically did nothing for her. No bloodwork, no xrays, nothing. When push came to shove we were willing to spend thousands of dollars if we thought we could keep her alive. And we’re by no means well off!

    I loved her so much that I never thought about her monetary value. My brother was actually her purchaser and legal owner. She was expensive—I think about $2000. She was a purebred English bulldog after all. And believe it or not she was actually very healthy for a bulldog, which is also part of why all of this is so shocking.

    It seems like people don’t really think there was malpractice here though. Should I just let go?

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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Miss Bugs View Post
    I agree with the others that said those are all general symptoms, and bulldogs have soooo many health problems that unless you want a lot of testing done, they are going to be dismissed as standard bulldog problems. Pyo is hard to diagnose if not showing the "classic" symptoms, believe me I know..I had a dog that got Pyo, she showed NO symptoms at all, so how was it caught? I had just so happened to decide to get her spayed, and when they opened her up they found a raging infection in her uterus. catching it and saving her life was a coincidence! that same dog passed away last year..a mere 3 weeks after her check up where she was given a clean bill of health and the vet said she was so healthy she could see her living to 18. 3 weeks later she died. she showed no symptoms of anything being wrong, but all of a sudden she lost a lot of weight..like 3 lbs in as many days, she was acting totally normal except for this, she was eating lots, she was crazy playful, her normal self. but that weight loss concerned me so I took her to the vet, they did an x-ray, determined she had swallowed a bobby pin and it had damaged her intestines, made arrangements for surgery the following morning, she was acting so totally normal that the vets were not concerned at all, and let her come home for the night. it wasn't until the surgery the following day that they found her intestines covered in Cancer, they removed what they could, fixed the bobby pin issue, fixed her up and she was Ok. they kept her for the night, but the next day she would not eat or drink, so they kept her till she would, by that night she was normal but they kept her one more night to make sure..that night her graft failed and she died. the vets were shocked, she was seemingly fine, her surgery went well, she was acting normally the night before. when they did a necropsy they found that her entire insides had been covered in Cancer, not just her intestines, the tissue was so weak from the cancer that the stitches basically ripped her apart. she had been very very very sick, and nobody had any idea despite the numerous vet visits, and several days at a vets office and a surgery. I still get really really angry about it, and very angry because it happened overnight which they insisted on, but did not have anyone staffed. I get upset that just 3 weeks prior to this she has been given a clean bill of health. but realistically? she showed no signs of illness 3 weeks prior, heck she showed no signs of illness period aside from weight loss. even if someone had been at the vet clinic overnight..they could not have saved her.

    now my dogs showed no symptoms and your did, but my dog was not a bulldog, your dog unfortunately did not show symptoms that a vet would not expect a bulldog to exhibit. it sucks, I know, believe me, it hurt me just to type out my dogs story and that happened a year ago. I wear a small urn pendant with some of her ashes, around my neck at all times. I have lost many dogs, and she is the only dog I wear like this, because the way I lost her HURT. my other dogs I have lost, I KNEW they were sick, I had time to come to terms with it and eventually let them go but when you believe your dog to be healthy and when you have had vets(whole you trust with your pets health) confirm your dog is healthy and all of a sudden they are gone? it's an awful feeling, but if your dog isn't showing enough concerning symptoms? it's not really anyone's fault
    Miss bugs thank you so much for sharing your story. You went through what I'm going through now except worse. I'm sorry for your loss. It helps to hear from someone who loved their dog just as much as I loved mine and had to deal with the pain of suddenly losing them after being told they were fine. I guess If you feel no one was at fault for your dog's death I should feel the same way about mine.

    It's as if I'm the big bad angry one. Everyday when I feel like I need to be with her I go over to where her house used to stand and sit there for a while. My family doesn't want to blame the vet either but I feel betrayed and taken advantage of. All of this money has been spent and I still don't have my dog. There's no justice in that. Not to me at least. Are we sure legal action isn't a good idea?

  17. #15
    Senior Member parus's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    The symptoms you describe can be caused by much more routine things and closed pyo is notoriously difficult to spot. I wish your vet had thought of it, but what's the saying, when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras? The symptoms at the time of the vet visit just don't shout pyometra. Note that even when the emergency clinic saw her with full-blown, more telling, symptoms it took extensive investigation to identify the problem.

    I'm very sorry for your loss and for her suffering.
    Last edited by parus; 08-13-2014 at 04:06 AM.

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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    (As a completely side note, $15 for a nail trim doesn't sound exorbitant to me. The groomer I go to charges $12 and their "time" is less expensive than a vet's.)

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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    Good-bye, sweet girl. Wait at the Rainbow Bridge.

    Very sorry to hear about what happened. Please be careful of the push me / pull you effect. Everything is connected. If this doctor did what he thought was right, then by trying to hurt him, other doggies who need help from him may not receive it. People make mistakes. Me and you, too. In the end, none of us can escape death. Doctors are not paid to prevent death, only to do what seems right at the time. Death is part of life. I hope you can find peace in the memory of your time together with this girl. That is all we have in this world, some time together. Again, very sorry in these difficult days.
    Last edited by Sunak; 08-13-2014 at 05:49 AM.

  20. #18
    Senior Member Greater Swiss's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    I am so sorry for your loss, what a nightmare!

    I'm a little bit surprised he didn't suspect something more serious. I thought pyometria caused a fever, which would have probably warranted a more thorough investigation....I could be completely wrong though. I really don't think you would get anything out of a lawsuit other than dragging out the pain, creating more bad feelings and spending even more money on this, when grieving would be far more healthy for you. I agree with Willowy, you should have a talk with the vet when things don't feel quite as raw. If you are still, after talking to him and doing more investigating, truly convinced that he blatantly messed up you could report him to the veterenary licensing board. It won't get you anything, but if he has been negligent, it might help others in the future. If you aren't sure though, don't do it, it could really hurt his career and business...not something to take lightly.

    Rest in Peace sweet girl.

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    Senior Member Laurelin's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    Pyo is a really tough one. My friend's dog just died of it after a prolonged vet stay. Sadly, it can come on very fast and not always be easy to diagnose until it's pretty bad.

    Spaying will prevent it, which is why all my female dogs are spayed once they hit maturity.

    My friend's girl was also 5. It's very sad.

    If I have a gut feeling the vet is missing something I push for blood work. Sometimes there's things the owner can see that the vet can't. It is impossible to diagnose based on 'he/she's acting oddly lately'. So far all my hunches about when my dogs are acting strangely have been accurate but the vet doesn't get to see them 24/7. He just gets the picture in the exam room. I pushed for blood work and also an x-ray with both my dogs recently to diagnose two separate issues they've had.
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    Re: Dog Died... Vet Malpractice?

    I am really surprised that the Vet did not take your dog's temperature as that seems to be routine with my Vet if I take a dog in, or I take it myself at home. Even human Doctors don't always know what is going on. My brother-in-law always had low Cholesterol, good blood pressure yet a week after the Doctor telling him how healthy he was, he had a major heart attack. He recovered with damage to his heart but had no symptoms and it was totally unexpected. Vets can't even ask the dogs what is bothering them so a lot of it is guesswork from years of experience and they can make mistakes. Sometimes, like Laurelin says, you have to push both your Vet and doctor to do more testing.

    Sorry to hear of the loss of your dog, I know how it feels.

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