PDA

View Full Version : Possible malpractice?



Derby Lyn Farms
Aug. 10, 2009, 06:31 PM
I was hoping to maybe get some advice on how to proceed with this. I had a colt born last year that was septic and I do not feel the vets treated him properly and they were negligent. Maybe a equine lawyer will say what I should do...maybe hire a lawyer to write the vet clinic a letter? Heres the story:

Colt was born on a Thursday morning. Got all the shots and looked/acted healthy. Friday he seems lethargic and ankle is swollen and he is lame. I notice this first thing in the morning and I call the vet. He does not feel it is necessary for him to come out. I give the colt penicillin and smz's b/c that is all I have available to me. By noon he is still not good. Call vet again, he says wait to see how he does, call again later in the afternoon, vet says wait it out for the weekend. I call again, after hours so now it is an emergency call. I tell him that the colt is septic and I need the proper antibiotics for him.

Vet comes out, says he thinks mom just stepped on him. He reluctantly gives me antibiotics. I ask him to draw blood for IgG and he does not feel it is necessary.

Saturday, colt looks great and looks better, ankle is down.

Sunday, colts elbow now is swollen. still on antibiotics. I do not call the vet b/c it is the same vet on call and he will not be of any help.

call first thing Monday morning to have the other vet at the clinic out. First he feels the colt is fine. He draws blood for an IgG for me. I practically had to beg the vet to put in an IV. At this point the colt is dehydrated and will not nurse. The vet leaves me with some fluids and tells me to give him one of them that day.

Tuesday I have the vet out again to put in a feeding tube. colt is going downhill, lethargic and not eating.

Wednesday: Vet just now runs the blood for an IgG at 4pm. WTF, he waited 2 days...doesn't this seem like time is of the essence here? He calls me and tells me he will leave plasma outside the clinic door so I can give it to him since by the time I get there at 5 the clinic will be closed. (Thank God I made him put in the iv).
I give him the bottle of plasma. No difference. This actually makes things worse, he starts wandering and acting like a dummy foal now.

Thursday, I take more blood for an IgG test. Test is still low. Under 400. They don't even send out the blood for an accurate reading. They are out of plasma and send me to another clinic (one I don't normally use b/c their ER call is $700!). I rush over to that clinic and tell them what is going on. they give me the frozen plasma. They tell me that the first treatment there should have been some improvement and ask me how much I gave him. I say 1 bottle. They say he needs atleast 3 or 4 bottles, that I just wasted my time doing that.
go home and give him the plasma, he immediately nurses, but within an hour goes back to wandering.

Friday I have the vet out and at this point I realize what I am going to have to do. He has quit urinating, even after tons of fluids. This new vet comes out, none emergency. They say the antibiotics and the amount I was told to give him by the first vet is way too much for his kidneys, that he probably is in kidney failure. With no signs of improvement I decide to have him put to rest.

I still owe the first vet clinic money for all of this. I Think I have paid them atleast $1000 towards it and owe them atleast that. They have now sent me to collections, and I really do not feel I should have to pay it. I spent over $1000 at the other clinic with the plasma and euthanasia and other tests. Please let me know what you think I should do from here. If I have to I will go with a lawyer. I do not want any money out of this clinic.

jetsmom
Aug. 10, 2009, 06:36 PM
I think you ought to file a complaint with the State Veterinary Board. They will investigate. If disciplinary action is needed, they will take it. That way he will be judged by his peers as to whether he provided the accepted standard of care.

I'd pay the vet bill to protect my credit. If he is found negligent by the board, you can then file a civil suit for the vet bill.

equinelaw
Aug. 10, 2009, 07:05 PM
I think you ought to file a complaint with the State Veterinary Board. They will investigate. If disciplinary action is needed, they will take it. That way he will be judged by his peers as to whether he provided the accepted standard of care.

I'd pay the vet bill to protect my credit. If he is found negligent by the board, you can then file a civil suit for the vet bill.


The collections people have no interest in whether you should or should not pay the underlying debt. They have sent, or will send a notice if you dispute the debt you must respond within x days. That court will not care about the righteousness of the underlying debt either.

Paying for a lawyer is going to cost much more then just paying the bill. The emotional action you need filled can be found with the SVB. It sounds like you need someone to validate your pain and tell the Vet they were wrong. They can do that for you for free and help to keep that Vet from making similar mistakes in the future.

It does not sound like you really want to file a MP suit to recover lost $$$$$$. That lawsuit would cost 10s of thousands of dollars. Its not a good method for just avoiding paying the Vet bill you do not feel the Vet deserves.

hitchinmygetalong
Aug. 10, 2009, 07:24 PM
First, I am sorry you lost your colt. That must have been a very difficult time for you.

Can I ask, have you spoken to the owner of the clinic that you owe the money to?

Unfortunately, vet charges are usually incurred regardless of the outcome. Those vets did attend to your sick foal, and you did purchase antibiotics and plasma. The fact that your colt died does not erase the charges.

Equinelaw has given you excellent advice. A malpractice suit is certainly not the way I would go here.

I would call the owner of the clinic and explain that, due to (whatever reason), you cannot pay the balance of the bill in its entirety at this time, but would like to pursue negotiating the balance and perhaps starting a payment plan. They may tell you that, now that your account has gone to collections, they no longer control it. In that case, you need to contact the collections agency and negotiate with them. And you want to do this as your credit rating can suffer from a situation like this.

horsegirl123
Aug. 10, 2009, 07:49 PM
I'm so sorry for your lost. I agree you should speak with the owner of the clinic and state your case. This should have been done when you recieved the bill. I had something similar happen to me about 10yrs ago where my pony broke her coffin bone but was diagnosed with an abcess. I kept asking for x-rays and was told that was not necessary. After two weeks of treating for an abcess I demanded the x-rays. The vet was very irritated with me but perfomed the x-rays. Low and behold the x-rays showed the true story. Long story short I wrote a letter of the incidence to the owner and received a phone call immediately. Most of the bill was credited and I received a huge appology. Give it a try and see what happens. Again so sorry for your lost.

Laurierace
Aug. 10, 2009, 07:54 PM
I am so sorry for you loss, that must have been heartbreaking. I am curious what you mean by "giving him all his shots" as I don't start vaccinating the foals until they are six months old. What are you giving them the day they are born?

trubandloki
Aug. 11, 2009, 07:17 AM
I am so sorry for your loss. I would contact the collections company immediately and work on paying the bill so it does not ruin your credit. Creditors do not care if you have a sad story to go with an unpaid bill.


This is the second post in two days where someone has posted about using a vet practice where they insists all along they knew the vet was not doing the right thing and then they are upset in the end about it.

If you had access to a clinic that you trusted more then why not use them? Yes, they cost more, I see that. To me that is not a reason to keep using a vet that you (general you) insist is doing everything wrong every step of the way.

Woodland
Aug. 11, 2009, 08:50 AM
The collections people have no interest in whether you should or should not pay the underlying debt. They have sent, or will send a notice if you dispute the debt you must respond within x days. That court will not care about the righteousness of the underlying debt either.

Paying for a lawyer is going to cost much more then just paying the bill. The emotional action you need filled can be found with the SVB. It sounds like you need someone to validate your pain and tell the Vet they were wrong. They can do that for you for free and help to keep that Vet from making similar mistakes in the future.

It does not sound like you really want to file a MP suit to recover lost $$$$$$. That lawsuit would cost 10s of thousands of dollars. Its not a good method for just avoiding paying the Vet bill you do not feel the Vet deserves.

Exactly.

I am sorry for your loss, but you need to pay your vet bill and then move along. The SVB can take disciplinary action if it deems it appropriate. A Vet is limited by education and experience. They are fallible humans and by the same token I doubt anything they did would have saved your colt any way. Sepsis is difficult to fight in the best of situations. If there is a next time you will need to examine your birthing husbandry and ship immediately to an equine hospital. When we were breeding, the worst thing was losing a foal - it is always devastating!

Derby Lyn Farms
Aug. 11, 2009, 12:36 PM
Its not a financial situation that I cannot pay the bill. The vet made decisions that wasted my money and resulted in the loss of my colt. This is called malpractice. Prescribing the wrong antibiotics, not giving me the correct amount of plasma, and waiting 2 days to run a blood test!?! why should I pay for those services. It was a complete waste. I did not realize they were not doing things right until I talked to the 2nd vet clinic (i.e. the plasma amount and wrong antibiotics). Regardless of what everyone thinks that I should move on, I am over it, and I could care less what my credit looks like at this point. I just went through a divorce and my credit has never been worse. Paying is not an option, I refuse to pay this bill. He has already been paid more then enough to cover the expenses of the cost of medicine. The owner of the clinic is the vet that saw my colt. The only reason I brought this up is b/c the vet is demanding payment for their services. I did go with the 2nd vet clinic in the end. This other vet has been my vet for years, mostly for simple things like coggins and such. I now use a new vet who is better educated with horses.

trubandloki
Aug. 11, 2009, 12:40 PM
So you did not really want our opinion you simply wanted people to agree with you?

Were the antibiotics that you gave yourself the right antibiotics in the right dosing? Just curious?

I would think after that many days of fighting with the vet and the vet not doing what you are telling them you want done you would have changed to the other vet anyway.

ddashaq
Aug. 11, 2009, 12:44 PM
So you did not really want our opinion you simply wanted people to agree with you?

Were the antibiotics that you gave yourself the right antibiotics in the right dosing? Just curious?

I would think after that many days of fighting with the vet and the vet not doing what you are telling them you want done you would have changed to the other vet anyway.

Took the words right out of my mouth.

Ambrey
Aug. 11, 2009, 12:47 PM
I think what she's saying is that she is willing to pay the legal expenses required to make her point.

So what is her next step?

bugsynskeeter
Aug. 11, 2009, 12:51 PM
I'm just curious to know why you waited until the bill was in collections before seeking advice on possible malpractice. Why was it not brought up with the vet in question when the bill was originally sent out? Why did you not bring up what the second vet had said to the first vet?

I'm sorry you lost your colt, but why did you spend so long fighting with the first vet, who clearly did NOT do what you had asked? Why did you not go to the second vet earlier?

Woodland
Aug. 11, 2009, 01:01 PM
I think what she's saying is that she is willing to pay the legal expenses required to make her point.

So what is her next step?

No, I think she wants validation. If she has her convictions then she must hire an attorney and pursue it in the civil courts. She would be unlikely to recover damages over and above the vet bills and the value of the stud fee - new born foals are only considered at that value. This I know from insurance claims from when we were breeders. The courts in my experience do not award punitive damages in animal cases. So this won't of "Lotto" value. Which is not the OP's point at all! If I were convinced of the neglect, i would pay the bill and hire an attorney. JMHO However it sounds like the foal should have been hospitalized at the owners discretion and therefore it removes the guilt a bit.

ASB Stars
Aug. 11, 2009, 01:09 PM
I understand completely the emotions that go into something like this. It is really hard to confront the situation the way you should, because it dredges up reliving the entire nightmare. It isn't hard to let these things get away from you, when emotions are concerned.

I had a Vet who, amongst other debacles, trimmed a gelding I have down to his soles, and just flat crippled him. The farm call was $55, the trim was $50 (two feet), sedating him was another $40. Total: $145- oh, yes, and then I had to go out and buy the poor thing a pair of boots, because he was too sore to move, within a day- $149. Vet said, "just bute him". Well, that was sure helpful! I fired him, and hell will freeze before I pay that bill.

Back to your story, hiring an attorney would simply be cost prohibitive, emotionally draining, and would not, IMHO, ultimately give you your colt back, or any real satisfaction. It stinks, but there you have it.

jetsmom
Aug. 11, 2009, 01:48 PM
Do you want to abide by your "principles" or do you want to see something "good" happen out of this? If you don't want to pay based on your principles, then don't pay him, and go ahead and throw money away sueing him. If you'd like to be sure that he is censored/disciplined if he actually was negligent in his care, and perhaps make sure this doesn't happen to someone else, then pay your bill, file a complaint with the State vet board, and if they find him negligent, use those findings to sue civily to get your vet costs back.

Kate66
Aug. 11, 2009, 01:58 PM
First, I am very sorry for the loss of your colt. Second, I understand completely what you are saying. My daughter had a 7 mins visit with a doc in ER, who applied some iodine and a bottle of glue stuff to her chin and for that I get a bill for < $1,400. Yes, I "can" pay it, but HELL - I want to know exactly what he did that he thinks warrants that sort of money.

Having said that, standing on principles costs money. A MP lawyer will cost more than the medical bill. I would be tempted to send a recorded delivery letter to the vet clinic laying out the reasons, unemotionally, as to why you are not paying the bill and wait to see what their response is.

sid
Aug. 11, 2009, 02:08 PM
If the vet knew the foal was septic AND had a swollen joint (indicative of joint ill), that's an emergency. Blood culture of both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria are run immediately to determine the antiobiotics to which it is sensitive.

In the case of joint ill, hospitalization for lavage of the affected joints is often indicated. Sounds like the sepsis was never brought under control because the foal did not get the early diagnostics and supportive care that might have saved its life.

Personally, I would pursue it.

kaluha2
Aug. 11, 2009, 02:32 PM
The vet made decisions that not only wasted your money and resulted in the loss of your colt, but he also wasted that colt's time by misdiagnosing him and treating him incorrectly and in such an indifferent attitude/manner.

Ironically, I am going through the same thing for just about that same amount of money. I called the magistrates office in the county where the vet's office is and have started the paperwork (3 pages) and have the money order ($80) to pursue a case against him in small claims (which is where you would go too). Send him a certified letter stating your intentions and he can have 30 days to respond---also send a copy to the collectors since you will want to dispute this bill with them. They need to know why you are disputing the bill.

Sorry, I won't get "over it and move on" until I skin Dr Von A-Hole alive in court.

Thanks for listening.

eventmom
Aug. 11, 2009, 02:49 PM
My motto these days is All that is required for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing:eek:
Please pursue this, not just for yourself, but for all those people who use his services after you.

jetsmom
Aug. 11, 2009, 03:25 PM
You guys that have had negligent vets need to file a complaint with the State Veterinary Board. Getting a civil judgement will only get you money. It will not affect the vet's reputation/license in any way. Anyone that wants to check out a vet will call the State Vet and ask if they have any complaints or disciplinary action taken against them. If no one has complained, but only filed civilly, the vet will show up as having no complaints, and the next customer may lose their horse/pet. At least try to make SOMETHING good come out of your complaints. Not just money.

Gloria
Aug. 11, 2009, 03:36 PM
I'm sorry for your loss. It must be horrible. I cannot tell you whether to pursue the legal action because it is for you to decide and many have spelled out the cons of pursuing it.

However, regardless whether you decide to sue this vet, you should pay your vet bill. Whether this vet is neglectful or simply ignorant, he did provide you services, services you requested and accepted, and therefore, it is your obligation to pay. Now after that if you do decide so, you can sue his ass.

I'm also very baffled about why on earth did you wait this long to fire your first vet? After the colt was born, did you dip his navel? I'm not saying you didn't but many times unless there is a transfer failure, this simple procedure is all is needed to prevent septic.

Why did you not insist getting igG the day after he was born? If there was a transfer failure, igG would have told you and you could have started putting the colt on colostrum. After three days, the colt's gut is closed to accept colostrum and you will have to do blood transfusion (very very expensive).

On the Friday when he was first lethargic and had swollen ankle, why did you not immediately get a second vet to get antibiotics into him, or trailer both mare and foal to the clinic, if your first vet refused to come? It was an emergency. At that time, you still had a good chance of saving your colt. When one of my mares failed to produce colustrum, we trailed both mare and foal to the clinic within four hours.

I'm sorry but once septic set in, this colt was a goner and it is very difficult to get it fixed.

You see, all the critical steps need to be taken within the first couple of days and they were within your powers to take. If you do decide to bring the lawsuit against this vet, these will be questions brought up against you. They will be used to lay blame on you at least partially. I'm not saying it's all your fault. Your vet failed to provide you sound advices and I think he deserves some punishment. However, I think you are deluding yourself if you think your lawsuit will sail through smoothly.

minnie
Aug. 11, 2009, 05:06 PM
Agree on the IG. 2 DAYS?! When i was breeding I had the Ig pulled within 12-14 hours to make sure the foal was getting immunity transfer. If the colostrum was sufficient it was usually 800 or above by then and if it was low I wanted to know right away so we could do something about it, rather than wait and let the baby pick up all kinds of germs and bacteria they wouldn't be able to fight off. If it were me, I'd send a registered letter to vet/collections stating payment was being withheld pending investigation of a complaint - even go so far as to put the money in escrow with a lawyer and notifying them of that while waiting a final answer to the complaint. The only one hurt by just not paying will be - YOU.

Calhoun
Aug. 11, 2009, 06:22 PM
I am sorry you are going through this . . . (((hugs))) to you. A few years ago, had a friend go through a similar circumstance and was so heartbroken she did nothing. Please write a letter to your state veterinary board and tell them your story. You never know, the guy could have many complaints but nothing has stuck and your situation might be the tipping point. Good luck!

hitchinmygetalong
Aug. 11, 2009, 07:48 PM
I was hoping to maybe get some advice on how to proceed with this. I had a colt born last year that was septic ...

You let the bill go for a year, and now there is a collections agency hounding you.

So now, after a year has passed, you decide to play with the idea of a malpractice suit? What took so long?

There is nothing stopping you from pursuing a malpractice suit. But be forewarned that it is going to take a long time to resolve and it won't get you your colt back. In the meantime you will still be dealing with a collection agency.

I am very much in favor of arbitration in matters like this. Perhaps you might try that route before loading both barrels and taking airm?

sid
Aug. 11, 2009, 09:52 PM
Gloria -- most people who are new to breeding trust their veterinarian and believe their vet to treat accordingly. The owner is not a vet. They do not necessarily know the course of treatment, and the speed at which it must happen -- unless of course they've been through something like sepsis before.

Saddly, the learning curve for a new foal owner is often borne out of something tragic, like this.

Pursuing "malpractice" is the OP's personal decision, but at minimum a report to governing veterinary boards would surely be in order. Might jar the vet into rexamining how he/she treats another foal in a similar situation in the future.

tkhawk
Aug. 11, 2009, 10:02 PM
I don't know anything about foal care, so won't go there.

But first, what is your objective. Do you just not wan't to pay the bill and make sure you are not hassled by creditors? Do you wan't to make sure this vet is reported so others won't suffer the same fate. Do you wan't to sue for damages or maybe a mixture of these.

Just take some quiet time, figure out what exactly it is that you seek and then embark on a course of action.

Kate66
Aug. 11, 2009, 11:14 PM
The vet made decisions that not only wasted your money and resulted in the loss of your colt, but he also wasted that colt's time by misdiagnosing him and treating him incorrectly and in such an indifferent attitude/manner.

Ironically, I am going through the same thing for just about that same amount of money. I called the magistrates office in the county where the vet's office is and have started the paperwork (3 pages) and have the money order ($80) to pursue a case against him in small claims (which is where you would go too). Send him a certified letter stating your intentions and he can have 30 days to respond---also send a copy to the collectors since you will want to dispute this bill with them. They need to know why you are disputing the bill.

Sorry, I won't get "over it and move on" until I skin Dr Von A-Hole alive in court.

Thanks for listening.

This sounds like good advice.