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Malpractice on a Maltese

by Wendy

I hope someone can give me some advice. I recently lost my 11 month maltese, Cosmo. On a Wednesday, I took him to the vet when he began "bruising"; the vet told me he was hemoraging. The vet did a variety of tests, and decided (without a biopsy) that Cosmo probably had cancer. He scheduled a biopsy for the following Monday, gave me a antibiotics (I don't know why) and let me take him home on Friday (after paying $350, but at that point, money was no object). Saturday morning I rushed Cosmo back to the vet because he was so anemic he could not walk.

The vet game him a transfusion (although he admitted he almost "lost him") sent a biopsy to the lab (results would be in the following week) and a dose of chemotherapy. I asked the vet if the chemotherapy would be harmful if he did not have cancer, and he assured me that it would not be. I asked if I could take Cosmo home to watch and feed him (at this point, he would only eat baby food out of a spoon), but the vet wanted to keep him there for "observation".

The next morning I got a phone call that Cosmo had died sometime between 4:00 PM Saturday and 7:00 AM Sunday. He had been left alone - there was no observation. He had become anemic again, and since there was no one there to give him a transfusion, he had died. Additionally, when I checked with other vets, they told me that the chemotherapy they gave him would have killed the blood cells in the transfused blood. Finally, after he had died, the biopsy results came back: he never had cancer. He had an immune response that was 85% curable, if treated.

Does anyone know what petowners' rights are? Is there doggie malpractice? Are there veternary boards I can contact? I want to make sure that this vet does not do mislead other owners ("observation") and mistreat other dogs. To add insult to injury, this week (two months after Cosmo's death) I received a non-itemized bill for $1100! I guess the vet did not want to list all the inappropriate procedures, and wanted to wait until I was less upset to give me the bill. I have not yet paid the bill, but the vet will not release Cosmo's ashes until it is paid. Can anyone offer advice?


Please bear in mind when reading topics pertaining to health issues, that many of these questions were answered by helpful Maltese owners with no formal education in veterinarian medicine. When in doubt seek a professionals advise.

I recommend you file a complaint with the veterinary board in your state. Be very specific and provide them with any documents you received from the veterinary. In California they are very concerned and agressively investigate complaints. Malpractice is very difficult to prove in court and takes forever. Better that the board protects other pet owners. If you decide to refuse to pay the bill, filling this complaint helps protect your credit; also, keep a copy of the letter you send to the veterinary stating why you feel payment of part or all of the bill is unreasonable.
-Stephanie Giroux

Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. Its hard enough to deal with the loss of a beloved pet let alone the anger of knowing it could have been prevented. Thank you for writing and making us aware that we have to be advocates for are pets. We would like to believe that every vet is going to give 100% effort into treating are pets, yet that isnt always the case. Before reading your letter I probably would have left my maltese on a Saturday for observation if a vet said it was needed. Now I would really question just how much observation and care she would receive. I hope you find the answers you seek about legal recourse , and I am sure you raised awareness in many.

We feel terrible for your loss. Nothing can ever replace your loved one. The hurt must be unbearable.

We also have experienced unacceptable diagoses for our dogs. During the month of August 1997, our little Princess underwent four surgeries to remove foreign objects from her nasal passages. The total experience cost over $1700. (And your right, money is no object when your baby is suffering!) But, after the fourth surgery, we were told that IF there was anything left in her passages, it would be too small to find. We brought her home again only to have the frequent sneezing attacks continue. In early October she had a big sneezing attack and a barbed pine needle came out of her nose that was over 2 inches long! It was obvious it had been in there a long time. Our poor baby spent almost 3 months in pain for no reason. Gratefully, she is fine today.

However, our experiences with both vets (our regular one who did two surgeries before admitting her scopes weren't long enough to get deep into her sinuses and the "specialist" who missed the 2 inch piece) were totally unsatisfactory. We wrote a message here asking the same question. No one could think of one. We ask again... Regular doctors have to answer to the AMA and goverment organizations. How about vets?
-Christina Norman

Wendy, you and Cosmo are in our prayers. Shelley, Koko and Shayna

Wendy, I am so sorry for your loss. I know my heart would be broken if I lost Shelby and she's only been with me a few weeks.

My prayers are with you and I hope your actions make this quack accountable for what he did to you and Cosmo.

Wendy, I am so sorry! I just get chills when I hear of someone losing their precious baby! I would also contact a vet board, and you might try to go to small claims court to recover any money paid, and to keep from having to pay the bill you received. I really think with the records you have, there is a good chance you would win. Small claims court is a lot less expensive than trying to get a lawyer. Be sure to include that they are holding the ashes of your baby, (I can't imagine how heartless they must be!) causing you so much more uneccessary agony! Please keep us posted.
-Robin K.

Dear Wendy, what a callous charlatan this vet must be to hold your baby's ashes to ransom! I would not even trust him to be returning the right ashes, and would think that you have every right to demand an itemised bill for all the procedures. What is he trying to hide? It may give you some ammunition when you lodge a complaint, which I really hope that you are successful in doing - do not let this "vet" get away with it! I am so terribly sorry that this has happened to you and so angry that "vets" like that are allowed to practise.
-Deanna (Moose & Squirrel)

Know what they call a Vet who graduated last in their class? Doctor. I've had one and it's terrible.

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