Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Texas Dogs "Burchered" by Bad Vet

Summer of 2003 was unfortunately very eventful for the patients of San Antonio vet Jack Burchers. And for two dogs, Diamond and Gizmo, it was their last summer.

Diamond. When Diamond, the Golden Retriever puppy, was brought to Dr. Burchers for her puppy vaccinations, she was coughing. Dr. Burchers gave the vaccinations and informed Diamond's family that the "cough was not a concern" at that time.

A month later, Diamond's family brought Diamond back as she was still coughing. Dr. Burchers then prescribed a dose of antibiotics that was twice the dose that should have been given to a dog her size - - a drug overdose.

Over the next several days Diamond got much sicker, until she was "in a weakened state and had difficulty breathing." The family took her to a different vet. This vet did a fecal test which showed intestinal parasites, and took x-rays, which indicated possible pneumonia. They gave her a transfusion, different antibiotics, and supportive care.

In spite of this care the next day, Diamond died.

Gizmo. Gizmo the dog was in labor when her owner brought her in to Dr. Burchers. Dr. Burchers did a C-section, delivering seven puppies, three of whom died. He also performed an ovariohysterectomy, however, he did not do any pre-op bloodwork.

After the procedure Dr. Burchers used "catgut" stitches and did not prescribe antibiotics.

Approximately 1 week later, Gizmo's family brought her back to Dr. Burchers because they saw that she was bleeding from her incision. Dr. Burcher's said that she had a "hernia" and that part of the omentum (peritoneum) was protruding from the incision site. He performed surgery to fix the hernia but Gizmo stopped breathing during or after the procedure.

The vet board found, in their investigation of this case, that:

Dr. Burchers did not give any supportive fluid therapy to Gizmo prior to either of the surgeries

  • Dr. Burchers did not do any pre-anesthetic bloodwork, nor did he suggest pre-anesthetic bloodwork
  • No written consent forms were used
  • Dr. Burchers did not prescribe any antibiotics for Gizmo after her C-section and hysterectomy
  • Dr. Burchers did not use all available means to revive the puppies that died
  • During the C-section, the amount of anesthesia Dr. Burchers had used was "excessive and could have led to fetal suppression." (Meaning, I presume, could have contributed to the death of the puppies.)
  • Dr. Burchers did not use all available means to revive Gizmo when she stopped breathing after the hernia surgery.
  • Dr. Burchers' use of catgut to suture Gizmo could have contributed to her developing a hernia.
  • Dr. Burchers records contain "no entries on the anesthesia procedures, anesthetic agents, medications, and other details of surgery.
In spite of the fact that the Veterinary Board found that Dr. Burchers had "violated the professional standard of humane treatment" in the case of Diamond and Gizmo, as well as violating recordkeeping rules -- with just a fine, a reprimand, and some homework (continuing education) he was free to keep doing what he does best:

Go right back to "burchering" his patients.