Banfield Pet Hospital - Dr. Merari Cruz — egregious veterinary malpractice
July 2005 – may 1, 2010
Cared for on april 30, 2010 by:
10:30 am – 6:00 pm: banfield pet hospital
7777 dr martin luther king st n
st petersburg, fl 33702
care of: dr. merari cruz
At 4 am on friday april 30, I noticed bob trying to use the litter box, but did not see a urine or fecal sample. unsure what trouble he was having, I watched him try four or more times over the course of three hours and noticed that he looked like he was in pain every time he tried. I made plans to take him to the vet immediately.
I began phoning vets and took him to banfield pet hospital on 9th street before 11 am where he could be seen immediately. bob was alert, agile and completely normal except for the pain in his abdomen when manipulated. I explained that it seemed he had unsuccessful litter box attempts for a few hours, which was first discovered at 4 am when I awoke, but he was otherwise normal. dr. merari cruz felt his abdomen and told me that he felt impacted with feces which was blocking his urethra, needed an enema with manual breakup of the blockage and that would relieve the pressure off of his urethra which was preventing him from urinating. (witness, bill rice, in room.) I agreed to their estimate for this procedure for $188, was relieved and went home to await any news.
Within an hour they called to tell me that he was indeed not constipated, he had a full urinary blockage. they did not ask me to come in to discuss necessary procedures or fees or sign any other authorization forms, but asked for blanket approval to do anything they wanted, which made me uncomfortable because I did not have unlimited funds on such short notice and I did not want to agree to treatments and tests that could total thousands of dollars without my ability to discuss what they were individually and decide what I felt necessary and able to pay for.
I asked to call back in a few minutes. I called a several other vets to compare prices and ask what were the absolutely necessary procedures for a urinary blockage and received very uniform answers, but could not get an immediate appointment elsewhere. I called to be sure I could borrow the funds necessary to cover the average costs of around $600 with blood work for the procedures as quoted by the other vet offices I spoke to and decided it was best not to move him. I called banfield back within 10 minutes to authorize very specifically that they (1) remove the blockage, (2) flush his bladder, (3) put in a catheter, (4) provide him any necessary medications and (5) provide iv fluids as is standard procedure for this type of blockage. I then asked them to tell me exactly the costs of these procedures and the girl on the phone told me it would be $310. I agreed and authorized that they do the five things requested and call me if he needed anything else.
They never called me or told me that he needed additional medications, procedures or fluids. I called around 3 pm to check on him. they said he was starting to come out of his sedation, they had removed the blockage, installed the catheter successfully and I could pick him up around 6 pm, as they closed at 7 pm and I must have him out of there by then. seems they were more concerned with going home early than the health of my “child”. I had to insist on speaking with the doctor. dr cruz came to the phone and warned me that he was not out of the woods yet and I needed to watch that urine production continued steadily through the night to be sure his kidneys were functioning. I assured her that I was quite capable of caring for him with proper instructions and I would be his nurse constantly through the night, every single minute for his care. I asked if he would have an iv bag and catheter collection bag to ensure that he was receiving enough fluids and processing them. she said that there was too much risk of the tubes being kinked, which could block him again causing his death and she did not want to do it. I just needed to be sure to watch him to see that fluids were flowing.
When I arrived at 6 pm to pick bob up, they asked me to pay $420 without presenting me with an itemized bill and without my seeing my animal or the doctor for a follow up to discuss the procedures completed, his current condition, prognosis or other necessary procedures they felt were essential to ensure his survival. they were busy at the counter and would not give me a private room to speak with the doctor but I continued to ask two different girls at the front desk about follow up care, for an itemized statement and an explanation of what exact procedures were done that caused my bill to increase more than $100 than quoted. I was not unwilling or unable to pay the bill, I simply wanted exact explanations of all charges and itemized statement so I was certain what procedures had been done. they would not allow me to see my animal until I paid my bill. I continued to insist and they presented an itemized bill, but I was still very confused about the charges, unsure about the full extent of procedures they administered to my animal and continued to ask questions without receiving direct answers.
Dr. cruz finally met me out in an aisle of the pet store as if it were an inconvenience and I was a problem, rather than in an exam room with my pet. she told me that she had to give him a shot during his procedure because he had vomited and that was why my charge was $100 more than quoted. she showed me the blockage that was removed (the diameter of a sewing needle), told me to watch his catheter tube to be sure fluids were flowing and take him to an emergency vet if he vomited or cried out. I then asked if he had received any fluids during or after the procedure. she was interrupted and walked away without answering or returning. as it turns out he was never administered any iv fluids during the procedure or after, thus causing his acute dehydration and demise (which I did not know at the time) but I was not able to determine this for sure from my invoice or their lack of direct answers and proper attention to me as a paying customer.
Two other cashiers tried to answer questions for me in between helping other customers at the counter, again treating me as if I were a nuisance. I was there, I was a paying customer with a gravely ill pet, I had waited for 20 minutes while they helped other customers before me, I had paid them over $400 without ever seeing the state of my animal and they still would not give me the direct attention necessary.in all, five different people came in and out of doors, as if I were interrupting them to answer questions and none were fully answered by any of them. finally, a girl gives me the number of an emergency vet to contact if he had any problems or more questions, gave me medications and instructions to dose him when I got him home and comfortable.
I asked for a copy of all his medical records including his lab test results, just in case I needed to rush him to an emergency vet through the night and was told they could not give it to me because it had not been entered into the system yet, they do it at night. I asked for a photo copy of whatever they did have and they refused, asking me to just wait until the morning. I was distressed, exhausted, I had already paid the bill because they would not let me see my animal until I did and they finally brought out a comatose cat, put it in my arms telling me that he is just still a “little groggy from the sedatives”, told me to bring him back in the morning and walked away. at that point my bill was paid, the cat was in my hands, I was in complete shock and they began helping other customers as if I were continuing to be a nuisance. bewildered, overwhelmed and in incredible emotional pain over the state of my beloved pet limp in my arms, I left as there was clearly nothing more they would do. it was now after 6 pm on a friday, other vets were no longer open, I was not sure what to do, they assured me he would be ok as soon as his sedatives wore off, “he was just groggy” they said, and told me again to come back in the morning.
I arrived home with him around 7 pm, his condition the same as when I left banfield. I was gravely concerned about his condition but reluctant to rush him to the emergency vet if he was simply still “groggy” from the sedatives.
He was slightly responsive but did not seem right, he seemed in pain so I gave him the pain medications as they had instructed. he had a drip coming from the tube so I thought things were going like they are supposed to, but he was not able to drink fluids due to his state. I tired unsuccessfully to get him to drink fluids, watched him hoping that the “groggy” would start to wear off soon and he kept looking worse. he started to cry out, heave as if he might be trying to vomit and breathe fast around 9:30 pm.
By 11 pm, I arrive at the emergency care center on belcher road with him in this distressed state. they confirmed that he was in shock, was experiencing hypothermia, he was more dehydrated than they have ever experienced in the entire history of their practice and immediately began iv fluids and oxygen with him on a hot pad to bring up his temperature. dr lisa driben explained to bill rice and myself how she could not understand why they did not administer iv fluids, did not have a closed iv system on the cat or why they sent him home in his condition and still so heavily sedated. she explained that the proper procedure was to administer fluids in a closed system to ensure that kidneys were functioning properly and she also said that she has had several pets come to her is such deplorable conditions from banfield. it is common knowledge to any trained veterinarian that an animal who can not drink fluids of its own accord, being drained by a catheter will dehydrate and perish.
He was unable to be revived and passed around 4 am on may 1st.
On may 3rd, I finally receive the full records from both offices to discover that the documentation in the banfield records is incorrect to the point of blatant and intentional falsification to avoid responsibility for their negligent care. they stated that I told them the cat could not pee for days, when I clearly told them I first discovered this at 4 am the same day. I personally watched the girl write it in the file. they refused to give me a copy of their hand written notes.
Their records indicate that I refused iv fluids, blockage removal, catheterization and a bladder flush when they clearly performed these procedures, which I authorized over the phone around 3 pm. all of these procedures are documented on an itemized bill received upon bob’s discharge, so this also clearly indicates that they have false information in their records. they did not administer fluids, their report says that I refused to authorize it. I specifically requested it when I approved the other procedures and thought they had done it or I would never have left with him in his condition. if dr cruz sincerely thought that I had refused to supply iv fluids for this procedure she is negligent for not telling me that it will kill the animal and that it is cruel. dr cruz should have told me he would not survive without iv fluids and never allowed him to leave in his state if she legitimately thought I had refused it.
Not only is this facility grossly negligent in the care of my family member, but if they allowed him to leave in that state and die such a horrific death that I had to witness, will never ever forget and possibly now need therapy for because of the heinous emotional distress I went through with him, it should be considered both animal and human cruelty.
I don’t and can’t have children. bob, was my child and he wasn’t even 5 yet. when he arrived at their location at 11 am on friday, he needed care but was healthy and alert. by 6 pm when they discharged him to me so unprofessionally, he looked like he was still under complete sedation and by 9:30 pm he began to go into shock. they made me take this cat home in this condition because they wanted to go home at 7 pm. they never once told me that I should take this cat immediately to another vet for continued care in his condition. they told me he was groggy and he’d come out of it soon.
This is gross negligence, abuse and cruelty all in one incident that should not go overlooked or unpunished.
If their office was incapable of handling such a serious medical condition because they do not provide over night icu care to animals, they never should have told me they could handle the case and referred me to a specialist instead of taking my money and killing my family member.
They preferred to empty my wallet at the expense of my child, leaving me $1200 in debt, paying for the loss of my most loved family member who was in the prime of his life and the absolute center of mine.
Banfield pet hospital killed the equivalent of my son in the cruelest way possible and forced me to be an unwilling participant in it.
If you have a similar story please contact me at kcproductions4fl at hotmail dot com. I want to create change and it takes more than just one person. please help and feel free to send any recommendations, links, referrals or legal agency contacts as I plan to take either direct or class legal action.