Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tail Docking Disgrace

Today's bad vet is Robert White in Idaho.

A breeder of miniature Australian Shepherds took her litter of seven puppies to Dr. Whate in June of 2004. White did the tail-docking procedure on these pups, but later, when the President of the North American Miniature Australian Shepherd club save them, he noted that the tails were too long, and that at that length the dogs would be disqualified from the show ring.

When the owner called Dr. White, he agreed to redo the docks. The owner took five of the puppies back for this second procedure.

The Factual Summary in this case states that Dr. White gave the puppies the sedative xylazine, but did not record the dose, and then used halothane gas as an anesthesia. The board noted that White did not use any pain control medication before, during, or after the tail amputation.

The owner was "shocked when she returned to pick up her pups [and saw] how short the tails were and the severe bleeding that was present. The receptionist told [the owner] to use flour to control the bleeding . . . Also, they did not send any pain medication or e-collars to prevent chewing at the surgical sites by the pups and told [the owner] not to offer food or water until evening."

The owner was not comfortable with these instructions, and took the puppies to another clinic. "The personnel there were shocked at the home care instructions regarding no food or wather for so long in the hot weather with pups at their age . . . they also advised to use 1/2 baby aspirin for pain control . . . "

"Upon further examination . . . [the owner] found that pup #4 had not been shaved in teh area of surgery and that there were only 1-2 very tight sutures in each tail. AT this time they took photos of all the pup's tails . . . The photos depict a very aggressive tail amputation and pup #4 had not been prepared with hair removal . . . . [the owner] took [two of the pups to another veterinarian who] examined the pups and . . felt the tails had been cut to short to be safe for good healing and to avoid potential nerve damage. [The vet] determined there was not enough vital tissue present to close the area and that the infection was a real concern."

The owner had to make several subsequent visits to other vets to get treatment for the puppies, including debriding "necrotic tissue", suturing and wound care, and antibiotic treatments.

The Board, upon review of this case, issued three allegations against Dr. White. In the first allegation (dealing with malpractice or negligence and unprofessional conduct), the Board said "Had Dr. White actually measured the tails and used the anus as a guide for appropriate length, the complications of dehiscence and infection could have been avoided. Having a consent form with a specific description of the exact procedure and lengths of tail detailed could have prevented making the tails so short."

In their second allegation, the board noted that White had "Medical records with no vitals, no history, no plan, no dosages of drugs used, and no concense forms . . . " The cited failure to comply with recordkeeping requirements, unprofessional conduct, and violations of rultes desaling with consent forms.

In the third allegation, the Board noted that "Dr. White did not provide pain control to the pups before, during or after amputation of their tails . . . .Dr. White did not attept to prevent the pps from chewing at their surgical sites by use fo an elizabethan collar. It is reasonable to suspect that pain may have contributed to the puppies chewing on their surgical sites . . . . "

For this allegation the board cited malpractice or negligence and unprofessional conduct.

The Idaho Board put White on probation for a year, ordered him to write a letter of apology to the owners, ordered him to pay a total of $1,475 ($715 to reimburse them for investigatiom costs, and $750 administrative fine); ordered that there would be two unnannounced inspections of his practice in the next year and that White must take a combined total of 10 hours of continuing education in 1) anesthesia, surgery, pain management and aseptic surgical procedres and 2) recordkeeping.

Of all the vet boards I've ever seen, Idaho is the only one that does not suck.