Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Death of the Dachshund Magoo Two Days Before Christmas Eve While in the "Care" of Paul Holmberg, Minnesota Vet

This one may make you cry.

Paul Holmberg is a Minnesota vet who was the owner of Phalen Park Veterinary Clinic in St. Paul Minnesota, and practised there, in 2000.

An owner, "M.M.", brought his dachshund Magoo, 14, to Holmberg for a second opinion about a possible hernia.

The Board document says:

[Holmberg] "did not maintain any veterinary medical record of the . . . appointment with Magoo. The only record is a receipt dated November 28, 2000 for an office charge with a notation "poss. inguinal hernia."

"Surgery was scheduled for December 21, 2000." [PLEASE NOTE" This is nearly a month later]. Holmberg "did not perform or offer to perform any pre-surgical laboratory screenings on Magoo. [Holmberg] performed the surgery at about 4:00pm. He corrected bilateral inguinal hernias and an umbilical hernia . . . Magoo was not put on a warmig blanket after the surgery."

That night, Magoo's owner was told that the surgery was a success and that he could pick Magoo up the next morning.

Holmberg, the vet, left the clinic that night at about 9:30pm. And when he did, he LEFT MAGOO UNATTENDED IN A CARRIER overnight, alone, at the clinic.

When Holmberg's assistant arrived in the morning, "she found that Magoo was cold to the touch and difficult to wake." This assistant brought Magoo out to see his owner who showed up that morning, and when she did, Magoo was cold and shaking.

The document said that Holmberg arrived later and that he put Magoo next to a space heater. The document says that "The dog had not urinated since the surgery." Certainly this was an emergency - but it seems that nothing was done about it.

Holmberg gave this dog, who had not urinated, sub-q fluids, torbutrol, and diuretics. But he did not give Magoo IVs, and he did not put him on a warming blanket.

That night Magoo's owner came back. It was now two days before Christmas Eve. Holmberg told the owners that he needed to keep Magoo overnight.

According to the Board document, Holmberg took Magoo home with him. (I am not so sure I believe that. Wouldn't it be a bit out of character for a man who left this dog alone in a CARRIER all night after surgery?)

Still, according to the Board document, that is what he did, and he gave more subqs and unspecified medicines to Magoo. It says that "The dog did not produce urine, did not respond to treatment, and died the following morning."

Merry Christmas to little Magoo's family.

In citing the "deficiencies" in the medical records, the Board said that:

"The record does not contain any medical history."
". . . the record . . . does not explain what type of post-surgical complications occurred, does not contain any post-surgical examination findings and does not contain any treatment plan to address the post-surgical complications."
"The record does not indicate that the dog died."

This board finding is a perfect example of how State Vet Board's merely cite "RECORD-KEEPING violations" when clearly, much more serious things went on -- and in fact, the lack of records indicate a lack of something else -- it's not merely that they DON'T write things down folks, although that's what the board documents would falsely lead you to believe.

The document further says that a Board investigation of the clinic found that Holmberg's clinic "did not meet minimum standards of acceptable practice for housing and sterile surgery in that all animals being held at [Holmberg's] clinic were housed in plastic portable carriers in the surgery room . . . [Holmberg] did not have an x-ray machine . . . "

The Board required Holmberg to get some training related to surgery and record-keeping, offer to do pre-surgical screenings, improve his post-surgical treatment of animals, and replace the carriers with cages. Holmberg's license was made "conditional" on him meeting these conditions . . . but I have to tell you, I don't really trust Boards to check up on these things.


So, here is why Magoo's person is my hero: He filed a lawsuit against Holmberg.

According to a document I found on the web, Magoo's person:

" . . . brought an action against Holmberg in Ramsey County conciliation court, claiming that his dog died because Holmberg illegally advised him and was running an illegitimate business. In July, the conciliation court judge awarded Mierva $350 in compensatory damages and $500 in punitive damages; in August, Holmberg removed the action to district court."

Bottom line is, after this award, Holmberg "moved for partial summary judgment" to limit the owners damage to the "fair market value" of Magoo. Magoo was a 14-year old dachshund, so guess what the market value is?

"When there was no stipulation as to fair market value, a trial on damages was started on May 20. The district court granted Holmberg's motion to dismiss when Mierva stated that he had no evidence that established the dog's fair market value. This appeal follows."

Magoo's owner appealed this unsuccessfully.

So that's it folks: This scumbag Holmberg is basically arguing that his patient had no market value and so he should not be held for damages.

Do you ever want to take your pet to a vet who believes your pet has no value? Who is willing to argue that in court????

But we already knew he considered Magoo and his other patients value-less, didn't we? It was written all over those plastic carriers . . . .