MSNBC 2010 Report: When Vets Make Mistakes, Pets Pay the Price

Posted: Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 12:39 PM
Category: Breaking News, Medical Information, Pet Safety.

MSNBC Report:  “When Vets Make Mistakes, Pets Pay the Price.”

Veterinarians are caring, professional people who have dedicated their lives and careers to relieving animal suffering.  As pet owners, we truly understand the power of the human-animal bond.  As you can imagine, I was surprised to read a recent report at that paints a very unflattering picture of veterinary medicine as a whole by depicting a few cases where medical mistakes caused distress to pets and their owners.

While I could spend time dictating statistics and numbers, I realize if the medical mistake occurs in your pet, the statistics are meaningless and your grief understandable.  As veterinarians, we understand the deep grief and pain felt when we our pet is injured or even lost.  We also can empathize with the anger, shock and frustration felt by pet owners.

The MSNBC article focuses on the fact that pet owners are often frustrated to find out that our legal system rarely offers options for compensation after an injury or loss of a pet.  The author describes a supposedly corrupt oversight system that favors veterinarian and ignores owner complaints.  It is interesting to note that most human malpractice cases are found to have no underlying negligence and it is unfair to presume the circumstances would be different in veterinary medicine.

The important message for the pet owner is to develop a trusting relationship with your pet’s veterinarian and health care team.   An open line of communication is important with your veterinarian especially during times of medical illness.  Veterinarians are bound by not only the state regulatory boards, but we have national groups like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) that set up policies and protocols to help veterinarians and veterinary health care team members to protect and save pets’ lives.  Dr. Goldman had a great post at  about trusting your veterinarian.  Click here to read the post.  It is post #14.

The Gardner Animal Care Center voluntarily chooses to have an accreditation team thoroughly inspect our hospital and protocols to insure that certain standards are met and adhered to.   AAHA states, “Choosing an AAHA-accredited hospital assures pet owners that the hospital they select has the staff, equipment, medical procedures and facilities that AAHA believes are vital for delivering high-quality veterinary care. Find out why AAHA standards are important to your pet.”  Click here to read about AAHA Accreditation Standards.

3 Responses to “MSNBC 2010 Report: When Vets Make Mistakes, Pets Pay the Price”

  1. I just switched to a better dentist, so it’s funny that I stumbled upon this post. Glad I found it though, I like your take on this.

  2. Laurellee Payne says:

    Another concern that the article woefully overlooks is the cost of malpractice insurance. One of the reasons a human doctor’s visit is 3-4 times the cost of your average vet exam is that. If the courts start getting involved in every misdeed of our veterinarians and technicians, the insurance rates will skyrocket and your average citizen will no longer be able to afford the costs of veterinary care. While it is upsetting and frustrating to see these problems occasionally occur, legal repercussions would entail an even greater threat to the health of our animal companions.

  3. Thomas Dock says:

    Sadly, this author (JoNel Aleccia) has no experience in this field and she has decided to paint the entire veterinary profession with a broad brush. The “journalism” in this story is obviously biased and not surprising for someone who is focused solely on the sensationalism and not the veracity of the story.

    Are mistakes made? Without a doubt…but to say that the whole profession lacks oversight is yet another indication that this author did not do her research well. Dr. Hurley has mentioned some of the many ways veterinarians are continually challenged to improve and do what’s best for their patients (and clients).

    It’s unfortunate that the American public is so enthralled with controversy that they fail to see how veterinarians protect the community and help provide a variety of services that protect animal health and human health.

    Thanks Dr. Hurley…just to let you know…we appreciate you and your team!

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