Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Diabetic Cat Suffers Cerebral Injury from Hypoglycemia and Hypoxia while in the "Care" of Unlicensed, Unsupervised Staff of Vet Candace Olson

Candace Olson was the Veterinarian-in-Charge at Greenbriar Animal Hospital in Fairfax VA when Dazee, a diabetic cat, was brought in for a medical board by her owner.

At that time, "Dr. Olson . . .represented that she had additional training in the care of diabetic cats," which was one of the reasons the owner selected her.

But Dr. Olson wasn't caring for Dazee -- she left town. Who did she entrust with the care of Dazee? Not her licensed veterinary technician either -- Olson says that the licensed technician was not on duty when Dazee was there. So, we are left to conclude that the "employee" left to care for Dazee was an unlicensed person without formal training.

As you may know, insulin is a life-saving, but potentially very dangerous drug. Exact dosing is very important, and it is also important for those caring for diabetics to know exactly what trouble signs to watch for, and how to deal with emergencies. But apparently, that was not the case here.

A few days after she was left at Greenbriar, an "employee" came in and found Dazee "lying on her side with her head back, and only her legs moving. This employee stated that Dr. Olson failed to leave instructions regarding Dazee's insulin dosage and eating" [the fact that Dazee must eat before getting her shots].

When the employee contacted Dr. Olson she told the employee to take Dazee to Pender Veterinary Clinic. When she arrived Dazee was seizing, although her blood sugar was 66.9 (normal range). The Pender vet consulted with a neurologist and they concluded that Dazee had suffered brain damaged from hypoglycemia and hypoxia. Dazee's owner took her home, but she died a few weeks later.

In the investigation, the Board found that Dazee's blood sugar was never tested before she was given her insulin shots. An insulin overdose could have caused all of the brain damage that Dazee suffered. Moreover, Olson had left Dazee in the care of an unlicensed individual.

Clearly, this is not the level of care Dazee's human loved one was counting on when she selected this self-proclaimed "feline diabetes expert" to care for her cat. And now, Dazee is dead.

So what is appropriate discipline for such an action anyway?

Well, the State Board fined Dr. Olson only $500.

The website of Dr. Olson's clinic, Greenbriar, continues to market its "posh cat boarding" facilities, and also has brochures alleging that they take "special care" and "one-on-one" care for your pet and that their staff are "well-trained." Dr. Olson's profile says that she pays attention to the "smallest details" for your pet. Hmmm, none of this is consistent with what happened to Dazee in her care.

So, what do you believe -- marketing claims, or experience?