We lost our cat Fluffy, on New Years Eve, 1997, two years after our former local veterinarian left two surgical sponges inside Fluffy during a surgery.
Fluffy suffered with these sponges inside him for 2 years, despite our numerous visits to this veterinarian to help Fluffy. Our former veterinarian charged us thousands of dollars trying to treat the problem he had both created and misdiagnosed as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and/or liver disease.
When Fluffy was getting much worse, this veterinarian refused to see him, saying we had done everything anyone could do for him. We disagreed, and we took Fluffy to a specialist in New York City.
The specialists did an exploratory surgery and found the sponges. The sponges had caused a host of problems for Fluffy, and he did not survive the surgery.
We reported the local veterinarian to the New York State Office of Professional Discipline, which is the licensing board for veterinarians. After investigating this complaint for over two years, the Office of Professional Discipline said that they could not find another veterinarian willing to testify for them at a disciplinary hearing as an "expert witness" that leaving sponges inside a patient after surgery is considered "negligence". Because of that, they are finding this man "not guilty". There will not even be a mark on his record, or any record of this complaint against him anywhere. We are still fighting this decision. And we would encourage anyone who suspects their veterinarian of neglicence or malpractice to file a complaint with their state licensing board against that veterinarian. Eventually, in time, it is our hope that they will start taking these types of complaints more seriously.
The laws in New York State are no better. They regard animals as mere property, and therefore companion animals are basically worthless in the eyes of the law.
We are so disgusted and outraged by this system. The system doesn't work. This could happen to anyone. It hurts when you lose a member of your family, even a four-legged one, especially when it is senseless, and by someone you had trusted to care for them. The system needs to be changed. It is supposed to protect us from these bad veterinarians, not protect them.
Unfortunately, things are not much better in other states. Please write to your state representatives (especially if you are in NY) and request that they change the way the "system" works. The more people that voice their concerns, the greater the chance that the system will eventually change. "Pets" should not be viewed as mere property in the eyes of the law. And the licensing boards that licenses veterinarians should hold these veterinarians accountable for their neglicence and misconduct, not protect them from consequence. Your voice can make a difference. Please do it for us. Do it for your beloved companions. Do it for Fluffy... so that he will not have died in vain.
To learn more about Veterinary Malpractice, please read our page about it.
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