Monday, November 15, 2010


So, this is one of the GREAT things that happened immediately upon my arrival back at work post-Hawaii:

You all remember this gut-wrenching case that had me questioning my medical and surgical decisions. I don't remember if I told the entire story - but the wife and husband could not have been more diametrically opposed. The wife wanted surgery at almost any cost and risk. The husband wanted to take the dog home and shoot it. As he told me (more than once), it was "just a dog."

The husband apparently called 3 times while I was gone, demanding a refund for surgery. He wanted to talk to the "little blonde doctor" who "raped him financially." Those were his words exactly. He accused me of taking the dog to surgery strictly for profit, knowing that the patient would die in surgery or shortly thereafter. There were many other accusations levied against me, but those were the strongest.

I got a note with the lengthy client communications detailed and our OM requesting that I call the male owner.

I called the night I came back to work. It was about 12 hours after I had received some very disturbing and upsetting news about a family member, and I was also in the post-amazing vacation funk, so I was very emotionally fragile. The male owner was sweet as pie on the phone with me, perhaps because he could hear that I was going to cry in my voice.

In all sincerity, I explained to him how sad I was that his dog had died, how terrible it felt not to be able to save him, basically, everything I outlined for you here. In the end, he said he felt I'd done nothing wrong, but that since the dog was dead, we should give him money back. I explained I had no control over that. He thanked me and said he would "take it up with the other lady" (our OM).

As it turns out, the owner actually recouped expenses from the man whose dog mauled his, so he was trying to MAKE money off his dog's misfortune. I believe my OM's exact words when I told her that he still wanted money back were "oh, HELL NO."

Then, the NEXT night at work, the wife came in to see me. She was not there to demand a refund. She was simply there to make sure that her dog had not died alone and scared. I felt for her, as I can imagine how hard it must be for people to leave seriously ill/dying pets in someone else's hands. To not be there with them when they die (although we tried to keep him alive without chest compressions so she could say goodbye) must be tremendously difficult. She was afraid that he had died scared. I assured her that we had been with him every step of the way, soothing him and easing his passing. This is absolutely true. I try to make sure every patient feels loved at the end, even those with no home and no owners. Even the squirrels.

*Sigh* I hope I've heard the last of this one.


Elizabeth said...

That is so horrible. I don't understand people asking for refunds, especially when you counseled them that the survival rate was 50/50.

You're talking about a life. It's not like a freaking car where you can simply replace the transmission and the car will work fine again. There are risks involved when working with living breathing animals.

Holly said...

Somehow Dudes attitude does not surprise me.

My question is not about the medical care, the level of compassion delivered by the medical team or even that the dog died. My question is, how can 2 people who have such a different basic philosophy on life exist in the same household?

I cannot imagine having lost my beloved pet, then enduring such a cold/casual attitude about the outcome FROM MY PARTNER.

I wonder if she had to fight to bring the poor dog TO you to begin with.

Holly said...


and one more thing.

your OM ROCKS.

Oh HELL no, indeed.