It started when Roma, a healthy, spayed Dachshund was taken to a veterinarian to have her teeth cleaned but it ended in preventable tragedy.
VETERINARY PRESCRIPTION PLEA
Roma was a healthy 4 ½ yr old spayed miniature longhair dachshund when my wife took her to a veterinarian to have a minor dental procedure, teeth cleaning.
Rebecca was told Roma would be given something to calm and relax her. Nothing was explained or discussed with her regarding kind of drug and/or the dangers of the drugs or any options to giving it to Roma.
The next morning, October 31, 2012, Roma was acting strangely; not moving from her bed, staring into space, and we contacted the DVM. We were told to just monitor Roma. That afternoon complications became obvious; Roma’s stomach was now showing a purplish tinge, and we called the veterinarian again and were told this was the afternoon for the DVM to go shopping.
On the morning of November 1, 2012 we hurried Roma to the DVM. During this visit the veterinarian gave Roma sub Q fluids, vitamin B12 and an additional pain medication which I strongly objected to because Roma was groggy, sickly, and not at all being Roma. I clearly and vehemently expressed: “I want the dog to wake up, and I don’t think more pain medicine is appropriate.”
It was too late. Roma died that night in bed with us around 3:00 am on November 2, 2012. It was awful what Roma went through; we went crazy.
And so, we took the matter to the Washington Veterinary Board of Governors who resolved the issue by sending a form letter saying in part: “The Veterinary Board of Governors has closed this case as below threshold.” They said essentially, even “If the allegations are true no violation of law occurred. The disciplining authority classifies allegations as below threshold when they pose minimal risk of harm or impact to the public health safety or welfare, or it cannot identify a violation of the law. The Board carefully reviewed this complaint based on the facts and state law. State law defines the disciplinary process and unprofessional conduct (Chapter 18.130 RCW). The Board can not consider issues outside its authority.”
I would appreciate folks getting in touch with me who have had a recent bad experience (6 years or less) with the Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors (WSVBG) relevant to Veterinarians who have harmed or killed a companion animal because they were not adequately paying attention to pharmacology. I am interested in any incidents of this kind involving you and a Veterinarian in Washington State. My reason for asking is the risk that substandard care will increase because of the random manner in which the State Veterinary Board closes complaints without investigation.
Alarmingly, the most recent State sponsored account of its kind, titled: Health Systems Quality Assurance-Health Professions Discipline and Regulatory Activities provided a “Supplemental Report”, specific to the WSVBG, announcing: “The number of complaints continues to increase, while the number of investigations authorized by the board has dropped.”
Another illustration of the State Board’s apathy came in an official message to a pet owner whose dog was killed because of a Veterinarian’s poor understanding of pharmacology. The WSVBG wrote: “Standard of care is determined by what a reasonable veterinarian in Washington would do in the same circumstance. … . Veterinarians could spend hours on the potential side effects of some drugs.”
The problem I find is, even though drug manufacturers provide a package insert for Veterinarians to read and disseminate, this professional protocol is ignored by too many Veterinarians and the WSVBG. Instead this State Board sets its “Standard of care” on the premise that the majority of “reasonable” veterinarians in the State likely don’t have the time to read and disseminate package inserts and therefore detect possible adverse drug events and/or interactions that can harm or kill. In short this Board believes Veterinarians “can’t afford to pay attention” and allows medical pet mills to exist for the economic gain of lazy practitioners.
I am hoping to initiate some companion animal legislation aimed at amending laws to better protect companion animals by reforming the WSVBG. As a result, the veterinary industry’s understanding of the safe prudent use of pharmaceuticals should follow. The Humane Society of the United States through its local chapters sponsors an annual Humane Lobby Day. During the Washington State event the target will be to imbed into key sections of Washington State laws such as the “Regulation of Health Professions-Uniform Disciplinary Act” and the “Uniform Procedures for Complaint Resolution” language akin to: A Commission or Board shall investigate all complaints of unprofessional conduct when a patient presents in apparent good health for a routine procedure but is injured or dies and misuse of drugs or medical devices is implicated as the cause of the injury or death.
Finally, other companion animal law(s) have not stayed abreast of social needs and mores and this too needs to change. By law, companion animals are characterized as personal property. The measure of damages for the negligent destruction of personal property, including pets, is its fair market value. Owners of livestock or other property such as trees and shrubs can anticipate better protection of their property via an enforceable deterrent than an owner of a companion animal. Washington law provides “treble” or triple damages plus attorney's fees to an owner of damaged livestock or trees. It is irrational that pet owners are not allowed the same.
Licensed Veterinarians must be made to assume the responsibility for making clinical judgments the same as other physicians and the Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors must be made to clean up their act and start enforcing the Uniform Disciplinary Act and associated laws as intended.
Please contact me if you have any information, questions, or similar veterinary prescription experience.
A Doggy Lobby, Paul P. Carkeek
Ocean Shores, WA 98569
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NOW PLAYING IN VIDEO THEATER, this article inspired a Health Ranger video production. See Prescribing Death (6 minute video) revealing the sick truth of prescriptions, vaccines, the soaring fatalities which parallel the ever-increasing cost of prescription medications.
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