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Long story short, my 12 year old dog passed away on March 12th while recovering from surgery for a splenectomy and we now have a $10,000 vet bill.

Background: He had been acting very sick so I brought him into the emergency vet at around 1:30am on March 10th. They gave him a blood transfusion and did some other tests, and kept him there for additional tests (abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, etc.).

That afternoon, we were told his case looked likely to be hemangiosarcoma (highly malignant cancer that causes tumors on the spleen, which eventually rupture and cause internal bleeding). They said the CT scan/ultrasound came back inconclusive and that they would need to do surgery to determine the cause/perform biopsies/stop the bleeding. We agreed, despite his age, because he was in good health before all this and his blood work came back fine. (btw this is the last time I saw my dog).

So his surgery was on the 10th, early evening. He handled the surgery well, they took the biopsies and removed the tumors, and they said he was recovering "surprisingly well." However, my family and I weren't permitted to see him.

On the 11th, we received another update saying he was wagging his tail, eating food, and going out to pee and poop. Everything looked good and they said we could expect to bring him home the next day. Well, at 5:00am on the 12th, I received a phone call saying that he went into cardiac arrest. I gave permission for CPR. Ten minutes later, I got another phone call saying they couldn't save him.

I don't want to get into emotional details here, because the point of this post is to ask whether the bill we received seems appropriate. We had paid $8,600 for all the services and then our dog died. We thought that was the end of it but a few weeks later, we received ANOTHER bill saying, "Oh, you also owe another $734." I think it's horrible and tactless that they would do this, but at the same time I understand they're a business. However, a search online for similar surgical vet procedures don't come close to what we paid. I'm hoping people on this board can tell me if this animal hospital is fleecing us.

I attached scans of the bills. Anyone with experience in costs of procedures, I'd really appreciate your opinion.

emergency.jpg

surgery.jpg

icu.jpg
 

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I'm so sorry for your loss.

Whenever I see a vet not allowing the owner to see the dog it sends up red flags after a friend used a vet to get a boxer neutered, and the vet used only a paralytic not an anesthetic, and when the dog came out of surgery (he had a retained testical), he fell off the table while his abdomen was open. Then the vet removed 8 inches of "damaged" intestine and stitched him up internally using staples that had barbs to prevent licking (not supposed to be used internally). The vet told the owner the surgery went fine, but he couldn't see him yet. Told him the same thing the next day. On the 3rd day the owner forced his way to the back room where he found his dog laying in a puddle of blood with his intestine exposed, with barely any blood pressure. He took dog to another vet where emergency surgery was performed and the dog had perotinitus, and fecal material in his abdomen (staples didn't hold). Upon questioning, the first vet's vet tech told him what had happened. Owner filed charges with vet board.

I found out about this a week after I used the same vet and he misdiagnosed my cocker with pneumonia. Dog had CHF. I also filed a complaint w/vet board, as the dog had standard/common symptoms 8 months earlier and was brought to the vet then, and 4 months later with addiltional common symptoms. Found out later vet had 8 complaints on file with state vet board).

So, it won't bring back your pet, but I'd call the State veterinary board and ask if there are any complaints on file/hearings/disciplinary actions on file on any of the vets there (or vet who worked on your dog if it was only one). If you find out there are a lot of complaints, I'd look into your situation more, talk to the vet and find out what really happened. Depending upon whether they provided the recognized standard of care, you might decide to try to get them to waive the rest of the bill, or recoup it in small claims ct if they were negligent. I'm not saying they WERE, but like I said earlier, not letting an owner see their dog, then it dies, just raises red flags.

PS- I know you said the dog had surgery on the 10th, but the surgical part of the bills makes it appear that the dog had the surgery on the 11th. Overall, the bill seems high to me. One unit of canine blood was 3 different prices on the bill, or so it appears.
 

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It would be hard to compare, as every clinic has different prices. For example, where I work, each blood value (such as glucose level, BUN, etc) is $12. But, each clinic sets their own prices, so those prices don't seem unusual.
If this was at an emergency clinic/hospital, prices usually are higher. The ultrasound and CT scan prices seem about right, from what I've seen on dogs we refer to have those done. Hospitalization fees seem correct for an emergency clinic.

Medication and fluid prices seem to be about what they are at the clinic I work at.
Everything seems to be appropriate, although that doesn't take away the shock at receiving that type of bill.

I'm sorry for the loss of your dog. Hemangiosarcoma is a nasty disease. I lost my late Basset to it several years ago. It's so quick acting..we removed a skin bump, took xrays once we knew what it was. Saw nothing..everything was appropriately sized. Several weeks later her bump came back and she started having labored breathing..her spleen was the size of a football. Very sad.
 

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Why would you even consider paying that kind of money on a 12yr old dog? I assume you are not excessively wealthy. If you had money, you would be asking your question to a lawyer, not a forum.

Don't get me wrong, I love dogs as much as the next guy, but I have never been the sentimental type. If I were in your dog's shoes, about to die of old age and very sick, I would expect/want my family to let me die. It's the logical choice.

I am sorry for what you are going through, I really am. Please don't think I am trying to be rude.
 

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It is REALLY hard to say, since every clinic/hospital is different. MY personal reaction though is that they were totally "nickel and diming" you... what is a $600 surgery charge for, if not to cover the necessary supplies? And almost $200 for CPR.. that baffles me.
 

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I'm so sorry for your loss :(.

For an emergency vet those prices seem about right to me. I also see that you are in NY. I'm in NJ and just in general vet care is more expensive in this area that it is in other parts of the country so if you are comparing bills make sure they are apples to apples comparisons. In other words, you would have to compare to another emergency vet in this area.

The other thing to consider is that this is an emergency vet and they have the ability to do things like a CT scan, which you wouldn't get at your regular neighborhood vet. It's the sad reality that having equipment like that means they are going to have to charge more. It's how they afford it in the first place. Most neighborhood vets would probably charge less but also wouldn't be able to do as much for your pet.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss. That said, the bill does look about right for an e-vet in this area.
 

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For an emergency vet or any kind of specialty clinic, those prices seem right. You may want to talk to the office manager about some of the charges...seems like there were multiple charges for things like e-collars and I would wonder why.

I'm very sorry for your loss :( We had a similar bill for a hound that ended up passing away. Several blood tranfusions and a week in ICU at a specialty hospital. It's a tough pill to swallow on top of the grief that you're feeling over the loss of your pet.

OTOH, we had a large bill at an e-vet in large part due to an error the vet made. They read the wrong x-ray and we agreed to additional testing based on their recommendation of reading the wrong x-ray. After I talked to the vet, they refunded us the additional charges for the tests we probably wouldn't have needed done if they'd not made the error. If you feel like errors were made or just want to discuss the bill, give them a call and ask to come in.

eta: I find it odd that they did not let you see your dog. Whether it's our regular vet, the e-vet or the specialty hospital we've worked with they have always allowed us in the back to see the pet as long as they were stable. We weren't always able to pet or touch them and sometimes they're still sleeping, but they've always let us see them if we've asked. Especially when the animal is critical and it's unsure what the outcome will be...
 

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Firstly I am so very sorry for your loss. After all you had done to save your boy, it is of course very sad that he did not recover.

Hemangiosarcoma is a very serious issue and many dogs do not survive the surgery for splenectomy. It's very important to remember that this IS a major surgery and even if your dog was a healthy 12 year old prior to his illness, the surgery, the cancer and the recovery itself put an amazing amount of stress on his body, especially his cardiovascular system, and it can cause their hearts to stop suddenly.
 

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It is REALLY hard to say, since every clinic/hospital is different. MY personal reaction though is that they were totally "nickel and diming" you... what is a $600 surgery charge for, if not to cover the necessary supplies? And almost $200 for CPR.. that baffles me.

The 600 dollars is not for supplies, it is for professional services..you pay for the skill, the education and the training the vet has taken. Supplies are extra. The orthopod we used to get in to do surgeries (he was a 'travelling' ortho) was 600 bucks before he even walked in the door (and this was 15 years ago) and our hospital supplied all the equipment and supplies. But he was an excellent surgeon and at that time one of only two in our area.

I've looked through the bill, and I think it is not over the top for an emergency service. It's brutal, mind you and would certainly worry me financially, but it doesn't seem to be they took advantage of you.

As for the additional bill, was it for cremation and return of ashes or necropsy? These sort of things cost as well and are not part of the original cost of surgery and hospital care. If there was no necropsy I'm surprised it was so high, but it depends on the size of the dog.

If it were me, I would call the vet and ask for an explanation/breakdown of how the billing works to ease my mind. But I wouldnt' argue the amount. I found when I worked at the vet front desk, most of the client issues for bills was that they didn't understand the why certain tests and procedures were done and what was involved, once broken down they had less issues with the bill.

RIP to your Snowy. He will be waiting to see you at the bridge someday.
 

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Why would you even consider paying that kind of money on a 12yr old dog? I assume you are not excessively wealthy. If you had money, you would be asking your question to a lawyer, not a forum.

Don't get me wrong, I love dogs as much as the next guy, but I have never been the sentimental type. If I were in your dog's shoes, about to die of old age and very sick, I would expect/want my family to let me die. It's the logical choice.
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ummm no. Ive paid 8 times as much for a dog close to that age(8 years old). Im not excessively wealthy either. Im a single mom/college student. i made an effort to pay it because it was the best thing to do for my dog. who are you to judge another owner's actions in this regard:confused:

if someone said that to me and i was in the OP's postion..they'd likely get smacked. just sayin.

OP, so sorry for your loss. you did what you thought was best and did it for love. as for the bill, some of the charges look a little funky and id ask the vet to go over each charge with you. Id also ask them about a payment plan if you dont have all the money right away. I was allowed to work in my vet's to help pay for my dog's surgery. if money is a concern, perhaps you could work out a similar type of arrangement.
 

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I'm not judging. It was a serious question.
I cannot help but think logically. As you can imagine, it is hard for me to relate to most people. The only logical solution is to ask such questions in an attempt to understand why people do the things they do. My inability to naturally relate to people forces me to try harder to understand them.
 

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Logic and emotion are often quite distant. I now see why your thread about picking the puppy was so interesting.
Something to remember....when a person is grieving or stressed out, this is not the time to ask that sort of question. If you are interested in why some people will go to the ends of the earth for their loved ones and others won't then you might want to start a thread in the off topic forum asking what other's would do and why.
Half of effective communication with others is by trying to empathize and to know when NOT to ask the hard questions. This takes practice.
 

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@Cracker: You are right.
I know it is never easy to lose a beloved family member. OP's vet bills are dated more than 3 months ago. It stands to reason that they have found a way to cope with their emotional stress and are now ready to deal with this. I would have not said anything had this just happened a few weeks ago.
 

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I'm not judging. It was a serious question.
I cannot help but think logically. As you can imagine, it is hard for me to relate to most people. The only logical solution is to ask such questions in an attempt to understand why people do the things they do. My inability to naturally relate to people forces me to try harder to understand them.
You know, aside from the fact that it is very cruel to say things like that to a person who is grieving, it is also pretty rude to basically tell anyone who would be willing to pay it that they are illogical, which is exactly what you are doing when you tell us about how you can't help but think "logically". Despite what many people believe, logic and emotion are not opposite things. Our emotions evolved along with the rest of our survival skills, and often there are very real, rational, survival-enhancing reasons for many emotional responses. Don't believe me? Consider the survival effects of emotional attachments to families. There are lots of other examples too, and I'm sure a rational person like yourself can think of plenty of them. It would probably help you "relate to other people" better if you also kept in mind that what is logical for one person is not necessarily the same for other people as it is to you. Your obvious logical conclusion can easily be completely illogical within the context of someone else's lived reality. Your rational thinking will be better if you assume the other person's life is different from yours and considering the outcome, before you just assume it the other person's thinking is sub-par.
 

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@Cracker: You are right.
I know it is never easy to lose a beloved family member. OP's vet bills are dated more than 3 months ago. It stands to reason that they have found a way to cope with their emotional stress and are now ready to deal with this. I would have not said anything had this just happened a few weeks ago.
assuming you know how long it takes for a complete stranger to grieve and cope..heck assuming ANYTHING about a nameless stranger on the other side of the internet is HIGHLY illogical in that you obviously have no basis to determine what this person is like save for a few highly interpretive sentances.

i totally dont trust your logic now dude.

and it is totally logical to attempt to go as far as you can to save one that you love from suffering and pain.

again, not trusting your logic.
 

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This should be taken to the Off Topic forums.
Look for logic vs emotion.

@KNA: We are sorry for your loss and we hope you get everything worked out soon. If you need someone to talk to, try the general forums. There are plenty of people who have gone through what you are going though. I promise to stay away.

Apologies for the thread jack
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank for all your replies.

For everyone who brought up the fact that we were unable to visit/see my dog after the surgery, I also thought it was a bit odd but the doctors said that he was in very fragile condition and seeing us might excite him/put added stress on him. They wanted to make sure he was more stable before letting us see him. It made sense at the time but after he died, I felt (and still feel) this huge guilt that maybe he didn't make it through after surgery because he thought we abandoned him in this strange place. I wish I could've seen him to let him know we were still there and he would be coming home soon.

Ronin rogue- It's okay, I didn't take offense. I understand people have different ways of dealing with these things. In my case, either you have the splenectomy or your dog will eventually die from internal bleeding. I felt not going through with the surgery would just be giving up on him and as I'm sure people on this board would agree, I just couldn't do that. He was a member of my family and I wasn't ready to give up on him yet.

spotted nikes- He most definitely had surgery on the 10th, not the 11th. I'm sure of this because all day on the 11th after hearing the good news that he was doing well, I remember letting out a huge sigh of relief and being happy all day, thinking I would get to see him the next day. Maybe the bill says the 11th because that's when they put it into the computer?

grab- It is a terrible disease. I only wish I had recognized the signs sooner. A full week before we brought him into the emergency room, he was breathing faster and faster (with a closed mouth), acting very tired, having shaking fits, losing his appetite, etc. I had brought him to the local vet and they said he had bronchitis or a lung infection, and put him on antibiotics. When the breathing only got worse and his gums turned pale is when they told us to bring him to the specialty clinic. And of course, as with most cases of hemangiosarcoma, it was too late.

covertune- I also found it odd that sugery was its own separate charge. You would think this would be accounted for in the costs of the actual procedures. It just seems like another way to add costs to the bill, which I find disgusting.

And now that you mention the CPR and another posted mentioned state veterinary boards, I was wondering if my situation is justifiable to file a complaint. We found out that the "doctor" who called me at 5am that day to tell me Snowy went into cardiac arrest, and then later performed the CPR on him, was actually an intern. Is this grounds for any action I can take?

cracker- The additional bill was just for services that the payments we made didn't cover. If you look at the final bill, the cost came to about $9400 and our payments totaled about $8700. These payments were based off of estimates they had given us, so it didn't include things that occurred after such as the CPR. Should I go back to the estimates and look for any discrepancies?

You seem to know a bit about these surgical procedures. Is it common for dogs to go into cardiac arrest while recovering from surgery? What would cause this? His heart was tested beforehand and they said everything back fine. It kills me thinking of him spending days in a strange place, not feeling well, and his little heart just stopping. When dogs go into cardiac arrest, is it painful (like a heart attack in humans)? Was he aware he was dying? His eyes were open and his tongue was out after he died (which I know is common) but the expression looked like he was scared and that hurts my heart to think about. Just writing this has made me start crying again.
 

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"Is it common for dogs to go into cardiac arrest while recovering from surgery? "
No it isn't but it is a known complication of surgeries such as splenectomies and surgeries to correct GDV's. It doesn't happen all the time but sometimes dogs recovering from these particular surgeries have heart arrythmias that can progress into cardiac arrest. We don't know exactly what causes these arrythmias and even our best efforts sometimes cannot prevent cardiac arrest. I don't know how many times I have struggled to keep a dog alive on the table only to have them arrest a day or two later in ICU.

"When dogs go into cardiac arrest, is it painful (like a heart attack in humans)?"

We don't know but I doubt it. A cardiac arrest in a dog is different than a human's "heart attack". What we call a heart attack is usually a result of a blocked heart vessel. The heart muscle that is served by that vessel doesn't receive oxygen. Dogs don't get obstructive coronary artery disease like we do.

I'm very sorry about your dog. I don't think you could have done anything differently.
 

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Honestly this looks about right for all the work done in an ER hospital. It's often very shocking to people since most of the time their surgery/hospital bills are covered under their medical insurance. People usually don't realize that the education we recieve and the machines/materials we use are just as expensive as the ones they use in people hospitals. $600 for a splenectomy sounds pretty reasonable to me. I haven't done one by myself yet, but, the ones I've scrubbed in on took a LONG time and a lot of materials. They're def. not easy to do.
 

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Honestly?
Im stunned at the bill.. The way every item is an added extra..

Whne my vet operates he examines the animal and gives a quote all inclusive he gives you the higher end figure and quite often he says 'oh well it didnt need as much xyz as I expected or it went quicker than I thought so the bill is a little cheaper' ..If anything extra (expensive) needs to be done he will call and ok it first..
 
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