In memory and honor of one very special cat...how incompetent and negligent QUACK Edward J. Nichols, DVM, Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio, Texas, treated Suki. 

And how his protector, Martin E. Garcia DVM of the Texas veterinary board helped him get away with it. 

Below is the account of the informal conference in Austin in August 2000 where one lone board vet, Martin E. Garcia of Raymondville, Texas, deliberately ignored every piece of evidence that proved exactly what Nichols had done to Suki -- and for how long and in how many different ways. 

The supremely arrogant (and obscenely rich) Martin E. Garcia DVM, then-board secretary of the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners  dismissed my complaint against Nichols in spite of documented FACTS and PROOF of how Nichols had mistreated Suki and committed repeated provable violations of the Professional Standard of Humane Treatment and recordkeeping statutes of the Texas Veterinary Practice Act, including failure to test, failure to diagnose, failure to get consent for unauthorized surgery under dangerous anesthesia, failure to perform presurgical labwork and preanesthetic evaluation, failure to provide IV fluids to a "v. dehydrated" cat before, during or after surgery, and numerous omissions of required medical information on the patient chart, including diagnoses, weight, temperature, names and dosages of prescription drugs, routes of administration of anesthesia, and type/dose/frequency of prescribed home sub-Q fluids. 

It was all there, every bit of it, and Garcia ignored it all, refusing to discipline Nichols even for his repeated, blatant and provable violations in recordkeeping. 

Later, when I was sued by Nichols in his bully SLAPP suit that tried to dismantle my web site, my testifying expert from A&M University, upon reviewing the same exact records Garcia had, corroborated nine breaches of the standard of care committed by Nichols on one day alone.

Garcia knew exactly what Ed Nichols had done - like every other vet who ever saw the same evidence - and gave Nichols a free pass to walk no matter how much mistreatment occurred. During the conference, Nichols made reference to 60 acres of land that either he or someone in his family owned, near Garcia's spread in South Texas. Why was this pertinent?

Read below how this disgrace of a "doctor" and supposed protector of public trust Martin E. Garcia, was instead protecting Ed Nichols, ignoring every statute of the Texas Veterinary Practice Act and allowing his fellow vet Ed Nichols to get away with ... everything. 

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A STATE OF DISGRACE:

Is the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners really protecting the public? 

"Do you know the average lifespan of a cat?"

"What were you feeding her?"

Questions from Martin E. Garcia, DVM, to Julie Catalano, August 17, 2000, at Edward J. Nichols, DVM, informal conference, Austin, Texas

and one more statement...

"This is an old cat."  

This last one, as callous and unprofessional (not to mention irrelevant) as it is, is EXACTLY what then- board secretary Dr. Martin E. Garcia, said about Suki during the informal conference of the allegations against Edward J. Nichols, DVM, Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio, Texas.

At that time the board secretary at the TBVME ultimately made the final decision on the outcome of a complaint at the informal conference stage.  When I attended the informal conference, the board secretary was the only member of the TBVME -- all other attendees were employees of the TBVME. 

The position of board secretary in Texas is an all-powerful one. As the ONLY member of the enforcement committee who decides then and there how a complaint should be resolved -- without benefit of ANY other medical input or even the requirement to evaluate the evidence in front of him -- the Texas Vet Board secretary has complete and absolute authority to decide the disposition of a complaint. 

Recent Sunset recommendations may change that if the Texas legislature passes the rules to allow the enforcement committee more power, along with the addition of a second vet AND a public member in all enforcement conferences, but Suki and I had no such luck. [2004 UPDATE! Recommendations that I presented to the Sunset Commission pass - As of September 1, 2005, informal conference is now required to have TWO BOARD VETS and a PUBLIC MEMBER present, AS OPPOSED TO THE ONE-VET-SYSTEM THAT DISMISSED SUKI'S COMPLAINT] ONLY Martin Garcia had the absolute power to find violations or ignore evidence of them. As one committee member told me afterwards, "The problem is, we're not doctors." He indicated that they have to abide by the decision of the Board Secretary, who remains completely unaccountable for his arbitrary decisions no matter what.   

Garcia was in COMPLETE CONTROL to decide Ed Nichols' fate. And in that room on August 17, 2000, he knew it. He was looking at an "old cat's" records and a woman who had all her ducks in a row, with records, timeline, patient chart, invoices, hospital records of standard treatment by competent vets who tried to save her, Suki's entire 19+ year history of a protected and well-cared-for life, medical questions, medical information from other vets who had helped me interpret what Nichols had really done to Suki -- and Garcia's attitude told me he didn't like it one bit. With all of the evidence, I more than met the burden of proof as is required by law in a closed door, off-the-record conference where everyone there is entitled to an attorney EXCEPT the complainant. Garcia had the power to shut me down and he used it. There is no appeal process in place for complainants who have to sit and watch a board secretary protect a fellow vet. 

WHAT DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE DID MARTIN GARCIA, IGNORE?

-- GARCIA IGNORED EVIDENCE of the alleged consistent and repeated violations of the PROFESSIONAL STANDARD OF HUMANE TREATMENT for period of March 22 - April 19, 1999, along with alleged repeated violations of RECORDKEEPING committed by Edward J. Nichols, DVM, Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio.

GARCIA IGNORED NICHOLS' FAILURE TO MONITOR

 - GARCIA IGNORED EVIDENCE of failure to monitor the condition of a CRF cat for four consecutive weeks from March 22 - April 19, 1999. Other than the lab work performed on March 22 and April 19, NO lab work or tests of ANY KIND were administered to Suki during the four intervening weeks, (including prior to an UNAUTHORIZED dental surgery that Nichols subjected her to on April 19). This was a cat who had received everything she ever needed her whole life -- blood work, tests, xrays, annual teeth cleanings, hospitalization -- and was being deprived of same by Nichols who claimed I, the owner, didn't want anything done and so he didn't do it. (And yet I somehow "wanted" anesthesia and surgery done while Suki was dying, without any evidence of consent or ANY evidence of DISCUSSIONS with me at any time about ANY SUBJECT WHATSOEVER...) Garcia ignored the pattern and mountain of records of the previous 19+ years BEFORE Nichols, and the hospital records that showed humane treatment AFTER Nichols, and chose to believe Ed Nichols' version that I had refused all regular treatment for Suki but had somehow inexplicably managed to authorize surgery under anesthesia for her via his mother. Somehow, in some mysterious and inexplicable way, I had refused humane treatment but okayed inhumane treatment. 

Insanity.

- GARCIA IGNORED EVIDENCE of the use of corticosteroids including a SWITCH in steroid use (from short term to long term and back to short term, and in unprecedented doses for Suki) on April 7 while Nichols continued to WITHHOLD STANDARD OF HUMANE TREATMENT including IV fluids, potassium supplementation, phosphorous binder, Winstrol, Epogen, and monitoring of any kind. Garcia saw on the records that Nichols had administered ONLY steroids on April 7, no other treatment, fluids, lab work, or recommendations for any standard of care with regard to any of Suki's diagnoses, none of which were recorded anywhere anyway. 

Suki collapsed 12 days later, on April 19. Prior to that, I had requested lab work because i was concerned that her blood levels were not being monitored. Nichols repeatedly stalled it (he knew I always got copies of it). Nichols said, in his defense of using different steroids at different times while not administering the usual treatments for CRF: "It was all about the comfort of the pussycat." His versions, which changed often, consisted mostly of his claims that I had known what he was doing all along and according to him, I was okay with it.

More insanity. 

GARCIA IGNORED NICHOLS' FAILURE TO OBTAIN INFORMED CONSENT FROM OWNER FOR SURGERY

- GARCIA IGNORED EVIDENCE of complete absence of owner consent to perform an unauthorized and unnecessary dental surgery on Suki while she lay dying. Nichols wrote "multiple organ shutdown" on April 19. He performed dental surgery on Suki under anesthesia without notifying me or getting any form of permission to do ANYTHING.  He took out a tooth and performed a teeth cleaning (patient chart and invoice). Yes, Nichols is cleaning Suki's teeth without my consent OR ANY PRIOR DISCUSSION WITH ME ABOUT THIS PROCEDURE, while she lay dying and dehydrated with no IV fluids and inadequate potassium supplementation to address her hypokalemia. Nichols claimed  that his mother had told him that I,  the owner, said they (Nichols) could do whatever they "felt" was necessary, and Garcia accepted that ridiculous dodge as "informed consent."  IT IS A VIOLATION OF BOARD STATUTES TO PERFORM AN UNNECESSARY OR UNAUTHORIZED PROCEDURE, and Garcia allowed Nichols to hide behind his mother. At NO TIME WOULD I HAVE EVER GIVEN CONSENT TO ANY VETERINARIAN TO PERFORM DENTAL SURGERY ON SUKI. She had a history of CNS disorder and vestibular syndrome (noted on Nichols' chart) which precluded the use of anesthesia at any time for any reason. Nichols ignored Suki's collapsed state (claimed that the words "not mobile" were not his handwriting), ignored what he had to know would have been my objections to surgery (no presurgical labwork), and went ahead and cleaned her teeth and performed an extraction while she lay dying, dehydrated, and suffering. When I finally saw her post-surgically and post-anesthetically, after being told on the phone by one of Nichols' minions that Suki was "fine!" and I could come and get her -- Nichols never, at any time, came to the phone when I called to try to find out what was happening.

When I finally saw Suki, her paws were twisted, facing upwards, and her back legs were entwined like rope. Garcia ignored everything I told him regarding this, and I was told later that vets in Texas don't have to prove consent for anything. The owner has to prove they DIDN'T give it. This allows vets like Nichols to do whatever they want and then hide behind their mothers.

The insanity continued.

GARCIA IGNORED NICHOLS' FAILURE TO PROVIDE PRE-SURGICAL TESTING OR PRE-ANESTHETIC EVALUATION

- GARCIA IGNORED EVIDENCE of a complete lack of pre- and post-surgical protocol by Ed Nichols on a CRF cat who was collapsed, anemic, hypokalemic, with a crashed liver, and PLACED UNDER ANESTHESIA WITHOUT BENEFIT OF PRE-SURGICAL LABWORK OR PRE-ANESTHETIC EVALUATION. I repeatedly told Garcia, "He didn't do lab. Nichols didn't do lab," and he ignored me. Suki received NO IV FLUIDS despite a chart entry of "v. dehydrated" made by Nichols himself, who stuck her in an induction box and cranked up the anesthesia, unknown to me. He didn't even record the amount, so who in HELL knows how much he gave her? Apparently whatever he wanted. Lab work was done POST SURGICALLY. There was NO POTASSIUM SUPPLEMENTATION despite a count of 2.9, NO WINSTROL OR EPOGEN ADMINISTERED despite lab proof of anemia, and a phosphorous count of 17 which another vet told me would indicate physical suffering. Nichols did whatever he wanted -- including surgery under anesthesia -- to a dying cat, and Garcia IGNORED ALL EVIDENCE of repeated and blatant violations of the standard emergency protocol for a cat who had collapsed from CRF. 

- GARCIA IGNORED EVIDENCE of hospital records where Suki was treated correctly and humanely  and in DIRECT OPPOSITION to the methods repeatedly used by Edward Nichols over four weeks when Suki desperately needed treatment for renal failure, hypokalemia, hyperphosphatemia, and anemia. Nichols HAD WITHHELD CRUCIAL TREATMENTS, apparently to fit his philosophy and definition of "natural" death no matter how long it took. He knew I would do anything for Suki, a choice he apparently did NOT want me to have, based on his actions and what he told me afterwards as Suki fought her for her life in another facility. Nichols had instructed me the day of the surgery, when he sent Suki home to die, "Don't put her in a hospital. It's cold and impersonal and you don't want it to happen that way." Garcia saw before him a pet owner with a documented history of everything being done for Suki her whole life, and chose instead to believe an insane version perpetuated by a "doctor" who said I had refused Suki treatment, but had somehow managed to authorize a dangerous and unnecessary surgery by way of his mother. I thought the hospital records PROVED violation of the standard of care (same cat, same condition, same community), and Garcia ignored all of them.

GARCIA IGNORED NICHOLS' FAILURE TO MEET THE STANDARD OF CARE AS PROVEN BY THE ACTIONS OF FOUR SECOND OPINION DOCTORS

-- GARCIA IGNORED EVIDENCE of the actions of FOUR SECOND OPINION VETS THAT WERE IN DIRECT CONTRAST TO NICHOLS' TREATMENT AND WHICH I BELIEVED CONSTITUTED PROOF THAT NICHOLS HAD VIOLATED STATUES OF STANDARD OF CARE. Garcia ignored everything that four vets did to try to help Suki -- in an amazing coincidence, they had administered EVERY treatment that Nichols had withheld. Same cat, same condition, same city, same owner -- all the necessary ingredients to prove standard of care violations and HE IGNORED THEM ALL.  He also ignored evidence of her incredible comeback in the hospital, where virtually all lab values were in reversal as four vets administered the correct and humane treatments -- potassium, IV fluids, Winstrol, Epogen -- allowing Suki, who was an extraordinarily strong cat, to respond positively to everything that was done for her, but too late. On April 24, it was noted on Sukiís hospital records that she had a fractured jaw after Nichols had performed his unauthorized and atrocious dental "SX" on her five days before. You decide if that's yet another amazing coincidence.  

GARCIA IGNORED NICHOLS' USING HIGH DOSE OF A STEROID  POST-SURGICALLY IN PLACE OF STANDARD OF CARE

- GARCIA IGNORED NEW EVIDENCE THAT HE HIMSELF DISCOVERED IN CONFERENCE THAT PROVED NICHOLSí INCOMPETENCE WITH SUKI ALL ALONG. This had to do with STEROIDS. At one point, Garcia noticed that Suki was administered 1 mg of dexamethasone post-surgically. There was, of course, no weight recorded nor had there been for those last crucial four weeks, along with no IV fluids or other standard treatments. Referring to the dexamethasone administered on April 19, Garcia stated, "it would usually be half that amount." He then looked up at Nichols across the table from him. Nichols said nothing, just looked back as they exchanged a rather long look. Nichols remained silent. Garcia looked down and then proceeded, completely ignoring what he had just found and what I had alleged in my original complaint -- that Nichols had misused and switched types and dosages of two steroids on two separate dates (April 7 and April 19). Was the use of steroids part of Suki's "natural" death? Repeating his ridiculous mantra that it was "all about the comfort of the pussycat," Nichols apparently wanted Garcia to see that steroids provide "comfort." Never mind the adverse effects of corticosteroids on the failing kidneys of a dying cat. So injecting a powerful steroid into a cat in MULTIPLE ORGAN SHUTDOWN was perfectly okay with Ed Nichols, and he uses the warm and fuzzy term "comfort" to distract from what was really going on -- the HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE USE OF STEROIDS IN A CAT DYING OF RENAL FAILURE.  I believe that a competent board vet would have seen right through what was really going on here, but instead, yet again, Nichols was allowed to blather on about "comfort." Sounds good, doesn't it? 

I can understand clueless, loyal, and trusting clients eating up whatever crap Ed Nichols hocks up, but a BOARD VET buying this garbage? Insane.   

The entire case was about Nicholsí treatment philosophy Ė to treat a geriatric petís symptoms to make it comfortable until the natural events of age runs its course and the animal dies.  A treatment philosophy that I did not consent to. And why would I not consent to it? BECAUSE AS TREATMENT PHILOSOPHIES GO, IT SUCKS. IT IS AS STUPID AND INHUMANE AS NICHOLS HIMSELF. I WOULD HAVE NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOWED SUKI TO BE TOUCHED BY NICHOLS HAD I KNOWN HIS SO-CALLED PHILOSOPHY. This could explain why there are NO notations of any so-called "discussions" with me about ANYTHING, because had I known Nichols' treatment philosophy, I would never have permitted him anywhere near Suki. (And never mind that there are no SYMPTOMS recorded on the chart to indicate exactly WHAT symptom this steroid was designed to provide "comfort" for.) The Depo on April 7 was the first step, with no other treatment except a promise to me of more Winstrol in two weeks, which she never got and which Nichols probably thought she would never live to see. (Note: Depo Medrol is a controlled substance, and board statutes also say that the use of a controlled substance must contain an attendant diagnosis when prescribed. What diagnosis or symptom was Depo Medrol addressing when Nichols injected Suki with it on April 7?  There is nothing on the chart to indicate this. Something else that Garcia ignored.)

By the April 19 collapse, there was only one thing left to do: After performing an unauthorized surgery under anesthesia with no IV or other supportive treatments,  Nichols injected Suki with enough powerful, quick-acting steroid to keep her going before releasing her home to me ("release home tonight" chart entry in Nichols' handwriting). The dexamethasone administered post-surgically created the illusion of a much stronger cat who was in fact, dying. 

The illusion was complete: On April 19, after surgery I knew nothing about and would have never authorized, I watched Suki pulling herself across Nichols' waiting room floor on her front legs, with her useless hind legs dragging behind her -- dehydrated, reeling from anesthesia, in renal failure, hypokalemic, hyperphosphotemic, and anemic. But by the end of the visit, and approximately one hour after Nichols' injection of what Garcia himself implied was TWICE the usual dose of steroid, Suki was sitting up and looking better.  Nichols sent her home with me, full of that one mg of dex that would, in fact, make her look "strong" enough while her internal organs were shutting down. NICHOLS APPARENTLY SAW NO PROBLEM IN INJECTING MY CAT WITH STEROIDS WHILE SHE WAS IN MULTIPLE ORGAN SHUTDOWN, AND GARCIA HAD NO PROBLEM WITH IT EITHER. 

This was sheer insanity -- NO VET ANYWHERE has been able to explain the use of steroids in this amount injected into a cat in this condition.

GARCIA IGNORED NICHOLS' FAILURE TO INFORM OWNER OF ANIMAL'S TRUE CONDITION

The post-surgical lab work--which Nichols withheld from me on the day it came back, and did not provide it to me until I demanded it from his mother the next day--proved Suki was dying. Only Suki's sheer force of will kept her alive long enough to get her to real vets the next day, where she was in bad shape after the artificial "pumping up" by the steroid Nichols used. Not to mention a potassium count of 2.9 after Nichols had instructed me on March 24 to stop giving her her Tumil-K. April 19, 1999, was the culmination of four weeks' of incompetent care that included the lack of IV fluids, inadequate potassium, lack of treatment for hyperphosphotemia, inadequate subQ fluids (Nichols had instructed me to administer 100cc every third day but there is no notation on the patient chart of this prescription including ANY type, frequency, or amount).  FOUR WEEKS of a cat who desperately needed standard frontline defense treatments for renal failure and I was too busy following Nichols' instructions to restrict her subQ fluids. (Again, absolutely NO record of the prescription for subQ fluids either). I was told to bring her back for lab work on April 7, at which time he said he "changed his mind" but to bring her back in ANOTHER two weeks -- instructions that just HAPPEN to not be recorded ANYWHERE on Suki's records. Nichols gave those instructions to me verbally but did NOT RECORD THEM ANYWHERE. WHY????

Then, on April 19, 1999, pumping Suki full of dex WHILE SHE LAY DYING, coupled with  the continued absence of STANDARD OF CARE treatment THAT MIRRORED THE PREVIOUS FOUR WEEKS:

No IV fluids during four weeks/no IV fluids during dehydration on April 19

No potassium supplementation during four weeks/no potassium supplementation on April 19

No monitoring labwork during four weeks/no pre-surgical labwork on April 19

Steroid injections without attendant diagnoses; steroid injection on April 19 without attendant diagnosis AND during renal failure and multiple organ shutdown). 

This was all I needed as proof of Nichols' mistreatment of Suki.  AND GARCIA CAUGHT IT,  HE CAUGHT THE DEX, QUESTIONED THE AMOUNT OF STEROID AT A TIME LIKE THAT, LOOKED TO NICHOLS FOR AN EXPLANATION, AND WHEN NONE WAS GIVEN, IGNORED IT AND MOVED ON. GARCIA SHOULD HAVE DEMANDED THAT NICHOLS GIVE HIM A VIABLE EXPLANATION FOR THE USE OF STEROID DURING RENAL FAILURE AND UNTREATED DEHYDRATION, AND HE DIDN'T. But Garcia was either too stupid or too apathetic to bother making Nichols do anything but continue his lies. Was Martin Garcia even QUALIFIED to evaluate this case? Not from what I could see based on the softball questions he lobbed to Ed Nichols and the ridiculous "answers" he accepted from Nichols without questioning him in too much detail. 

Garcia HAD to know Nichols was lying (and lying and lying) and simply looked the other way.

- GARCIA IGNORED THE TIMELINE.  Garcia allowed Nichols to blame EVERYONE and EVERYTHING for what happened to Suki -- changing versions throughout the meeting at will -- and never at any time held Ed Nichols, a licensee of the state, accountable for a SINGLE ONE OF HIS ACTIONS OR WRITTEN STATEMENTS regarding Suki's mistreatment. Garcia continued to let Nichols ramble on about the most incredibly STUPID things you can imagine, including commenting at one point on "the state of our society." Being in this "informal conference" was like being in the Twilight Zone. Since I was denied my request to have my attorney present, who might have been able to prevent some of the insanity that was taking place or at least QUESTION it, there was nothing I could do except to sit and listen to Nichols claiming that I was lying, when I was the ONLY one who was presenting any evidence of ANYTHING.

Garcia's protection of Nichols extended even to the following, to make sure that NO DISCIPLINARY ACTION would be taken against Nichols with regard to any aspect of this case. Look how far Garcia went to make sure that Nichols' official record stayed clean from every angle:

GARCIA IGNORED NICHOLS' FAILURE TO MEET RECORDKEEPING STANDARDS - weight, temperature, symptoms, diagnoses, Rx names and dosages, amount and frequency of sub-Q fluids, recommendations to owner, follow- up -- ALL were left off of chart over three-year period.   

GARCIA IGNORED THE FACT THAT THERE WERE NO NOTATIONS OF ANY DISCUSSIONS WITH THE OWNER REGARDING TREATMENT PLAN, DIAGNOSES, PROGNOSES, OR ANY DISCUSSIONS OF ANY KIND. Nichols was allowed to blather on about "many, many discussions" with the owner WITHOUT EVER HAVING TO SHOW ANY KIND OF PROOF OR EVEN ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE THAT ANY SUCH DISCUSSIONS EVER TOOK PLACE.

- GARCIA IGNORED EVIDENCE of REPEATED VIOLATIONS OF RECORDKEEPING STATUTES. Check out the breakdown here of  Nichols' shoddy, shabby disgraceful records which OMITTED CORRECT DATES, WEIGHT, TEMPERATURE, SYMPTOMS OF DISEASE OR DISORDER, NO DIAGNOSES OF CRF, ANEMIA, HYPERPHOSPHOTEMIA, AND HYPOKALEMIA, RESULTS OF LAB WORK, NAMES OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, DOSAGES OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, RECHECK DATES, and RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TREATMENT. 

And most of all, the OMISSION of the crucial prescription for home subQ fluids which are essential in the care of a CRF cat who has an owner who will do EVERYTHING. Nichols instructed me to give her no more than 100 ccs every THIRD day but left ALL notes of ANY Rx of types, amounts, and frequency of subQs off the patient chart for four weeks. 

When Garcia asked Nichols in conference how many fluids were prescribed to Suki, Nichols replied that he depends on his clients to judge:  "If the cat needs fluids every day, they should get fluids every day." To hear his RIDICULOUS blathering, it apparently was not his responsibility to prescribe or record the prescription for fluids; it was the owner's to guess how much the cat needed on a daily basis. Since subQ fluids are a PRESCRIPTION, he was essentially saying that he depends on his clients to judge the amount of a PRESCRIPTION--which is forbidden BY LAW for a non-vet to do.

This obvious evasion of this very important issue SHOULD HAVE RED-FLAGGED a competent board secretary who should have been focused on medical FACTS and medical EVIDENCE that proved that Nichols had committed acts of medical negligence by underprescribing subQ fluids and then leaving that information off the chart for four consecutive weeks, thereby also resulting in recordkeeping violations by leaving off absolutely crucial medical information.  Instead Garcia chose to listen to Nichols' insane "explanations," and allowed Nichols to blame me for his own actions.

Nichols' neglect of  Suki  had extended far beyond those last four weeks (one of our experts later said that Suki had received nothing resembling the standard of care for the previous TEN MONTHS); the state of his  records proved  a vet who is --at the very best--careless, lazy, sloppy, and stupid. And Garcia allowed all omissions, errors, and gaps in Nichols' records to go unaccounted for.

So... what about those records? And what did Suki's age have to do with them? 

Ed Nichols' records SUCKED, and Suki's age had NOTHING to do with her records. 

According to Lee Mathews, counsel for the Attorney General's office, the age of a patient is "irrelevant" when it comes to recordkeeping statutes. A patient's age has absolutely no bearing when it comes to whether or not a doctor must keep complete and accurate records. He must abide by the statutes. Period. In fact, disciplinary records show that numerous Texas vets have been slapped with disciplinary action for doing far less than what Nichols did.

At one point in the conference, Nichols smiled and nodded, telling Garcia about the 60 acres of land he owned, referring to the same area where Garcia owns a considerable amount of land, which is common knowledge and the subject of an extensive magazine puff piece on Garcia. I have no idea why Nichols brought up his land in that conference or why he needed Garcia to know that he was practically a neighbor, and said the same in my testimony to the Sunset Commission in May. 

In the end, Martin E. Garcia, VMD, dismissed all allegations against Edward J. Nichols, DVM, with three words: "Given her age..." 

Even though it states in writing in the Board procedures (section 575.27: "If the board secretary determines that a violation has not occurred, he/she will dismiss the case, and will advise all parties of his/her decision and will explain the reasons why the complaint was dismissed") AT NO TIME did Garcia explain anything, stating only that "given her age," Nichols had done nothing wrong.    

There was only one...little...problem:

IN THE END, GARCIA HAD NO EXPLANATION FOR SUKI'S MEDICAL TREATMENT. Imagine that! The medical records show what Nichols had done, but Garcia's only concern was Suki's age, not the actions of this vet that were in complete contradiction of what "any other vet in the same or similar community" would have done -- and in fact did do -- for Suki.  

Garcia used the words, "Given her age..." So what am I to conclude from that?

"Given her age..." apparently Suki was not entitled to any presurgical labwork or pre-anesthetic evaluation prior to a dangerous, unauthorized surgery while she was suffering from renal failure, anemia, and hypokalemia as PROVEN by her lab work?

"Given her age..." apparently Suki was not entitled to have her guardian give consent to surgery, as the surgery under anesthesia was performed without the owner even knowing what was happening. Nichols claimed that it really wasn't anesthesia, using the absolutely INSANE justification that he only used a little bit. Never mind that not only is that medically absurd -- the claim that using only a little bit of anesthetic means that it really isn't anesthesia --  there is NO RECORD of how much halothane and nitrous oxide Suki got, nor is there any recording of the routes of administration. I will never know how much GAS Nichols made Suki inhale while she was in that HIDEOUS INDUCTION BOX WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT? 

"Given her age..." apparently Suki was not entitled to IV fluids to alleviate her "v. dehydrated" state noted by her "doctor," Ed Nichols, at any time, not even before, during or after a dangerous, unauthorized surgery on April 19 in which her phosphorous count was 17.1, indicating considerable physical suffering. Her lab work PROVES she had hyperphosphotemia which was NEVER ADDRESSED BY NICHOLS AT ANY TIME, not even when it appeared FOUR WEEKS EARLIER ON MARCH 22?

"Given her age..." apparently Suki was not entitled to Winstrol or Epogen to treat her anemia, not even before, during, or after a dangerous, unauthorized surgery, as PROVEN by her patient chart and lab work?

"Given her age..." apparently Suki was not entitled to potassium supplementation, not even before, during, or after a dangerous, unauthorized surgery when her count was 2.9 and Nichols performed dental surgery to remove a tooth and perform a teeth cleaning while she was collapsed from CRF, as PROVEN by her patient chart and lab work. SUKI NEEDED POTASSIUM AND SHE DID NOT RECEIVE IT, AND GARCIA IGNORED THAT TOO. On April 19, I personally saw her paws twisted and her back legs entwined like rope, and was told by Nichols that her potassium was "shot," BUT HE NEVER GAVE HER THE POTASSIUM THAT SHE NEEDED, and had instructed me on March 24 to stop giving her her Tumil-K when her potassium count on March 22 was ALREADY BORDERLINE LOW. WHY?????????? Why had Ed Nichols instructed me to stop treatment that ANY OTHER VET WOULD HAVE KNOWN that Suki needed, and why did he continue to withhold that treatment from her on April 19 when her paws and legs were twisted from potassium depletion? 

"Given her age..." apparently Suki was not entitled to proper monitoring methods for a four week period while she was suffering from CRF, anemia, hyperphosphatemia, and hypokalemia despite having an owner with 19+ years of records PROVING that this was a cat who got everything she ever needed, including lab work and any tests that were ever recommended by any vet at any time. Suki had been at A&M for treatment of hyperthyroidism in 1993. I have NEVER been a minimalist when it came to Suki's treatment. I WAS SUKI'S OWNER, and Suki had always gotten EVERYTHING SHE EVER NEEDED. If I wanted my cat to die a "natural" death I would have never taken her to any vet, much less one who stuck her in a box and gassed her to perform  dental surgery while she was dying and dehydrated but pumped full of dex. None of that sounds all that "natural" to me. Does this sound "natural" to you? 

"Given her age..." apparently Suki was not entitled to the Professional Standard of Humane Treatment by Ed Nichols as administered to her by four other vets in the same community. Same cat, same condition, same city -- everything needed to PROVE VIOLATIONS of the standard. Hospital records PROVE Suki's comeback as a strong cat capable of responding to treatment that Nichols decided she would not get from him, as PROVEN by his records on her and what happened on April 19? 

"Given her age.." apparently Suki could be pumped full of dexamethasone after a dangerous, unauthorized surgery in which OTHER standard treatments for CRF were withheld and while she was in a state of "multiple organ shutdown" (Nichols' chart entry), as PROVEN by her patient chart and lab work?

"Given her age.." apparently Suki was not entitled to a complete and accurate medical record despite the law saying the patient's age is irrelevant when it comes to records. Nichols could leave off weight, temperature, symptoms, diagnoses, evidence of any PE, names and dosages of prescription drugs, amount/type/frequency of sub-Q fluids, recommendations for treatment, and recheck dates. SUKI'S RECORDS PROVE A CONSISTENT PATTERN OF NEGLECT AND OMISSION OF CRUCIAL MEDICAL INFORMATION OVER A THREE-YEAR PERIOD?   

"Given her age.." apparently Ed Nichols could administer whatever he "felt" was necessary (written response to investigators, January, 2000), and withhold whatever he "felt" was necessary to withhold, no matter how many ways it violated the Standard of Care, as PROVEN in his own words in his written statement as required by state board investigators. The use of the word "felt" SHOULD HAVE FLAGGED GARCIA THAT THIS WAS A VET MAKING ARBITRARY DECISIONS NOT BASED IN ANY STANDARD OF CARE. He did not say he treated Suki according to what SHE needed, or what the accepted STANDARD OF CARE was, or what I WANTED with regard to WANTING EVERYTHING DONE. He used the word "felt" to describe what HE determined was "necessary." As usual with Ed Nichols, it was all about him. What Suki needed was irrelevant. What he "felt" she needed--and didn't need--was what mattered. That's how much of a travesty this conference was--in the end, Suki's needs as a patient and her right to standard of care were irrelevant. My rights as an owner to informed consent and accurate patient records were irrelevant. And worst of all, the statutes of the Veterinary Practice Act were irrelevant. The statutes governing authorized procedures, humane treatment, standard of care, and accurate recordkeeping did not seem to apply to Ed Nichols. Why? 

"Given her age..." apparently Martin E. Garcia, then-Board secretary, ex-board member, present licensee of the state, and keeper of public trust, could ignore all evidence of negligence by Nichols because Suki was nothing more than "an old cat." The fact that Nichols walked without being held accountable for a single one of the above actions leads me to believe that this is a case of a veterinarian protecting another veterinarian. 

So why did Martin Garcia let Ed Nichols walk after all of the above? Why ignore all tangible evidence of repeated recordkeeping violations when that was the easiest thing to prove in Suki's case and the age of the pet is irrelevant when it comes to records? Even if he cared nothing about Nicholsí incompetence in treating "an old cat" with a treatment philosophy that says to inject steroids into a suffering and dying cat without addressing the underlying problems of CRF, dehydration, anemia, hypokalemia, and hyperphosphotemia, why give Nichols a free pass on his patently incomplete and shoddy records when anyone -- even ignorant, uneducated laypeople like me -- can see with their own eyes how many times Nichols violated clear standards of recordkeeping that are governed by law?  

Why did Garcia look the other way with ALL THE EVIDENCE here? Was it a board secretary protecting a crony? A neighbor? A fellow vet? Did he not like a layperson having the quantity and quality of proof that could put a colleague's license at risk, making him determined to protect that colleague at all costs? Or was it just plain incompetence, arrogance, apathy, and a sense of entitlement that says if you are a veterinarian, you are accountable to no one?

You decide. 

NOTE: In August 2003, I sent a complaint against Martin E. Garcia to the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for Garcia's actions in connection with what I considered, based on the evidence and my firsthand eyewitness knowledge of the enforcement committee meeting, to be a gross mishandling of Suki's case in the complaint review process. 

The complaint was, of course, dismissed. 

UPDATE: In October 2004, Garcia was finally replaced on the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners FOURTEEN MONTHS after his term expired. Thanks to all of you who wrote to the governor's office to help make this happen. However, even though he is no longer on the board, his actions during his tenure as Board Secretary described here STILL STAND as a testimony to how flawed the present system is, and the need for reform so that NO OTHER SITTING BOARD VET can blatantly ignore a mountain of evidence and allow their colleagues to escape accountability. Veterinarians are licensees of the state, in a position of PUBLIC TRUST, and as such are held to a higher standard. Their actions are subject to scrutiny by citizens, and their actions can be reported on by eyewitnesses under the FIRST AMENDMENT. I personally witnessed Garcia saying and doing everything reported here, and stand by every word. The people of Texas are entitled to know what goes on behind closed doors in secret meetings that determine public safety, and any licensee of the state who attempts to squash or control consumer information should be exposed for doing so. 

Through my experience four years ago, I saw firsthand how inept, incompetent, and corrupt the Texas Veterinary Board system can be. It is why I am committed to doing everything I can to expose it, and I am not alone.

Because the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners refuses to reopen Suki's case and properly investigate the monster Edward J. Nichols, Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio, we have no choice but to do their job by presenting FACTS and PROOF on this site to expose this vet -- along with any and all vets protecting him -- and in doing so protect the people and pets of Texas.  - J.C.  

 

AND

What Happened to Suki...and What Happened to Me. How  Edward J. Nichols, DVM, Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio, Texas, treated Suki 

See also

Allegations Against Ed Nichols, DVM, and Correspondence from the TSBVME

2005, five years after my web site went up:

Nichols Files Lawsuit Against Me in an Attempt to Silence Me

On July 21, 2005, Edward J. Nichols, DVM, Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the owner of this site, seeking a permanent injunction to dismantle vetabusenetwork.com and enjoin me from expressing my opinions about him and his treatment of Suki. 

Nichols FAILED to get an injunction against me or this site (see order denying injunction here) 

 Ed Nichols FAILED AGAIN on appeal (see 4th Circuit COA decision here) 

 After 2 1/2 years of litigation, this matter was set for trial on March 10, 2008. 

Nichols, the eternal and supreme COWARD, RAN. His lawyer called my attorney the night before trial and wanted to "settle."

A settlement announcement was made in Bexar County District Court, where neither Nichols nor his lawyer Ann Comerio showed their faces in open court, and

HIS LAWSUIT AGAINST ME WAS DISMISSED WITH FINALITY ON MARCH 10, 2008.

2015 Update!

To this day, Edward J. Nichols and Crestway Animal Clinic, along with his friends, family, and other sycophants, continue to lie, spreading slander and libel about me to anyone who will listen. 

Martin E. Garcia no longer has a license to practice medicine in the state of Texas. Years after he protected his friend Nichols, he himself was found in violation of statutes regarding controlled substances. His deceit was ongoing "over multiple years." Was one of those years the year he deliberately ignored all of the evidence in Suki's case?

See Martin E. Garcia's Disciplinary Action here.

 

 

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