In memory and honor of one very special cat, victim of Edward J. Nichols DVM, Crestway Animal Clinic, San Antonio, TX. Read Suki's Story.
Is Your Vet Keeping Good Records? Hers wasn't.
Buyer beware...medical records are part of what you pay for as consumers of veterinary care for your pet.
A veterinarian who does not keep accurate or complete records of your pet's health care -- symptoms, diagnoses, names and dosages of prescription drugs, recommendations for treatment, etc -- is not only violating the statutes of his profession and misrepresenting your pet's treatment to you, he could very well be endangering your pet's life.
Accurate, competent, professional record-keeping is NOT OPTIONAL. It is the LAW. The Veterinary Practice Act that governs EVERY veterinarian's practice has very clear guidelines as to what is required to be on YOUR pet's records.
ANY VET who claims that recordkeeping is optional, not important, or is performed at the discretion of the individual vet is LYING.
ANY VET who blames another person for the lack of medical information (symptoms, diagnoses, weight, temperature, names and dosages of Rx drugs, recommendations for treatment, etc.) or the state of his own records is a disgrace.
If a vet blames other people for his sloppiness, carelessness, negligence, incompetence, apathy, and misconduct, and your pet is harmed or killed, how do you know he won't blame YOU?
ALWAYS GET COPIES OF YOUR PET'S RECORDS AFTER EVERY VISIT. THIS INCLUDES LAB WORK AND OTHER TESTS THAT ARE PERFORMED EITHER IN-HOUSE OR FROM AN OUTSIDE SOURCE. I believe it is especially crucial to get copies when lab work is performed in-house.
If, upon examining YOUR pet's records, you do not see an accurate accounting of what actually took place in the exam, including accurate symptoms, notes, diagnoses, treatments, and recommendations for treatment -- FIND ANOTHER VET.
That's how serious sloppy records are.
NEVER let a veterinarian tell you that records don't matter. Those records not only tell you what is happening to your pet, THEY ARE AN INDICATOR OF THE TYPE OF VET YOU ARE DEALING WITH. Tolerate a sloppy, careless record-keeper at your own risk and that of your pet's future.
What about elderly patients?
According to the Texas Attorney General's office, the age of a patient is "irrelevant" when it comes to record-keeping. If your veterinarian claims that geriatric pets don't need accurate records, or their records don't matter any more because of their age, you may want to FIND ANOTHER VET.
What can you do?
IT BEARS REPEATING: Get copies of your pet's medical records -- including all test results -- after every visit. Be sure and match them up with the originals that the vet has. Some doctors could be keeping duplicate files -- one for the client and one to submit to insurance companies and state boards in case anything goes wrong.
From California Medical Veterinary Medical Board, below:
"The most important reason for excelling at medical record keeping is not to please the VMB or to protect yourself in a lawsuit. The primary purpose of complete medical records is to be able to provide optimum patient care."
Informed Consent: Make Sure Your Vet Complies
Were you informed of all the procedures being performed and did you give permission for the SPECIFIC treatments involved PRIOR to their being administered?
Does your veterinarian obtain informed consent BEFORE performing procedures? Failure to do so SHOULD result in disciplinary action by the state board, but they don't always enforce their own statutes, leaving the public vulnerable to vets who do whatever they want without accountability.
What can you do?
Make sure you deal with an ethical veterinarian who explains the risks and benefits of ALL procedures with you, the owner/guardian, BEFORE performing them -- especially surgery and anesthesia.
If the worst happens and an unauthorized procedure has been performed on your pet, ESPECIALLY ONE THAT YOU SUSPECT HAS BREACHED THE STANDARD OF CARE: First, get your pet safely away from this veterinarian as soon as you can without endangering their health.
Then...GET COPIES OF ALL RECORDS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (check your state laws -- Texas allows clients copies of their pets' medical records; not all states do).
Next, find the link to your state board to begin the complaint process. Report any violations of FAILURE TO OBTAIN INFORMED CONSENT to the board.
Failure to get informed consent is extremely serious.
When you look the other way or allow a vet to get away with performing unauthorized procedures, or allow a vet to minimize or downplay his wrongful actions, you could be helping that vet to continue to harm other people's pets.
Informed consent is NOT OPTIONAL, nor does a vet get to define it to suit his purposes.
ANY VETERINARIAN who works IN SECRET, without obtaining your permission (i.e., INFORMED CONSENT) to perform procedures on YOUR pet -- especially when provable violations of standard of care are involved -- could be hazardous to your pet's health.
There are too many competent, professional veterinarians who keep consistently good, accurate records and obtain informed consent for the specific procedures involved. Choose your veterinarian carefully or you may end up with one who ignores the laws of his own profession.
The Board contends that Lincoln failed to gain explicit permission for surgery performed on a golden retriever in March 2004 and failed to maintain adequate medical records for the dog’s treatment. ... more
Vet Removes Dog's Teeth Without Notifying Owner, North Andover, Mass., eagletribune.com, June 2, 2007
"The whole idea is this is your child, this is your baby. How can you trust what they say when you drop off your pet?" asked [owner] Carew, who lives in Haverhill.
Are Pets Being Over-vaccinated? Check out Next-to-Kin Organization
Vaccination concerns: Check out consumer warnings about unnecessary and potentially harmful vaccines
WHDH Channel 7 News, Boston, "Pet Threat", May 18, 2005
Is Vaccine Putting Pets in Danger? , KDKA-TV Special Reports, Pittsburgh, kdka.com, March 4, 2004
Feline Chronic Renal Failure Information Center If you have a cat with kidney disease or decline in kidney function, this is the best resource for feline CRF on the net. If a vet for any reason instructs you not to read this site or any like it, fails to diagnose CRF or leaves it or any other serious condition or diagnosis off of your cat's patient chart, you may want to get your pet safely out and FIND ANOTHER VET IMMEDIATELY.
For guardians of geriatric (elderly) cats or cats with kidney failure:
Feline CRF -- Chronic Renal Failure
As your cat ages, you MUST learn everything you can about CRF (chronic renal failure). Your cat's life depends on it. Knowledge is power, and only YOU are the rightful decision-maker regarding the treatment you want for YOUR CAT. Check out The Feline CRF Information Center and especially CRF Recordkeeping. Vets are required by law to keep complete and accurate records. In the case of a CRF cat, sloppy records may translate to negligent, incompetent care.
Feline CRF Foundation - Chronic renal failure has a name -- CRF. It is a disease that has standard treatments and standard frontline defense that veterinarians MUST follow just like any other disease or disorder.
Time is of the essence in treating CRF. It is YOUR CHOICE how you decide to treat your pet.
Get copies of your cat's patient chart AFTER EVERY VISIT. This will prevent record-tampering later if something happens to your pet and documents are fabricated or altered.
Get lab work done no matter what. This is ESSENTIAL with CRF cats, who MUST be monitored, weighed, temperature taken, urinalysis done.
If the vet is doing lab work in-house, make sure you get copies of it. Run it by a second vet to make sure the vet is not downplaying some things, overplaying others. Once your cat is dead it will be too late to go back and look at inhouse lab work that is under the vet's control.
If the vet is doing lab work in-house, MAKE SURE THAT LAB WORK ON YOUR PET IS NOT BEING DONE IN SECRET. A vet can easily take blood from your cat without your knowledge.
ONLY YOU ARE THE RIGHTFUL DECISION-MAKER FOR YOUR PET.
Info on Diabetes and Other Feline Disorders
"'There is nothing you can do for a cat whose kidneys are failing.' Wrong. Fluids and various medications can be of great benefit. Also, what has caused the kidneys to fail? If they're failing due to being taxed by another condition or toxin in the cat's system, addressing that can save the kidneys. Run from a vet who throws up his or her hands like this. At the very least, get a second opinion."
From "Stupid Vet Tricks?"
Consumer Reports article Veterinary Care Without the Bite wins Ellie Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors' National Magazine.
Most Pet Owners Will Spend Anything to Save Pet's Life
Survey Says Nearly three -quarters of VPI survey respondents say they would foot any size bill
BREA, Calif. (June 6, 2006) If you would pay any amount of money to ensure a long and happy life for your pet, you're not alone.
According to a recent survey of Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) policyholders and other pet owners who visited the VPI website, 70 percent of those who responded said they would pay any amount to save their pet's life.
The latest opinion poll was delivered to VPI Pet Insurance policyholders through its quarterly newsletter, The Retriever, and was also accessible on the company Web site, my.petinsurance.com/newsletter.
Of the more than 5,200 responses to the latest survey, just 3 percent of respondents said they would pay up to $500 to save their pet's life. Ten percent of pet owners would pay up to $1,000, and 17 percent would pay up to $5,000. The findings are in line with national surveys on the topic.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 2002 Pet Owner Survey, about half of the pet owners surveyed said they would spend any amount to save their pet's life. The following year, 73 percent of pet owners said they would go into debt to extend their pet's life, (published in the AAHA 2003 Pet Owner Survey).
On a popular finance blog, freemoneyfinance.com, pet owners were posed the same question and had varying responses. One pet owner writes,"I would spend whatever it took to save my pets," while another capped the spending at $15,000. Other bloggers reported that they would spend between $2,000 and $3,000 to save their pet's life.
While costs of veterinary services vary region by region, pet owners are spending more annually on such services than they have in the past. Between 1994 and 2003, aggregate U.S. household expenditures on veterinary services rose 76 percent, from $4.8 billion to $8.5 billion, according to "Pet Insurance in North America" (a November 2005 Packaged Facts study).
"This latest survey of our policyholders and pet owners everywhere underscores what we have known for a long time -- that the human-animal bond is stronger than ever," said Dr. Carol McConnell, director of veterinary education and services for VPI.
"It is increasingly more common for pet owners to view their pet as a family member. As such, pet owners are willing to do whatever it takes to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible. Cost of veterinary services is becoming less of an issue for them, especially when they have the financial assistance of pet health insurance."
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