BluePearl Veterinary Partners / Malpractice
My dog was referred here end of December 2011 by our regular vet, withe a diagnosis of a recurrence of thyroid cancer. She had successful surgery at another NYC animal hospital -with no complications- there years previously. A/c to check-up on the 22 Dec. blood work and x-rays showed her in excellent health otherwise, even as a 14-year old terrier.
1. Following a CT scan on 29th Dec. we met with surgeon (Greenberg) for brief consultation. A/c to him, malignant was "neatly encapsulated" and would be "cleanly removed". I learned later (discharge papers; CT summary) that lymphnode swelling/enlargement was noted and "suspect...metastatic origin". In other words, the cancer was beginning to spread. The tumor ("soft-tissue density mass") was also described as 'large'. It was in fact, much larger than the one removed 3 years previously. A/c to various vet medical sources I consulted (references available) on thyroid cancer in dogs, these two things (suspected spread and large size) should have precluded ANY surgery. An alternate form of care should have been considered/discussed. With the optimistic attitude of surgeon, BUT WITHOUT THE NECESSARY INFORMATION, I went forward. I believe the surgeon (who did not do the actual "reading" of the CT scan; I was billed for a "CT consultation") proceeded without knowing the complete results of the scan, which were in a file he opened for the first time as we spoke.
If I had been given all the facts, I would not have proceeded with the operation, which took place on 30 December.
2. Withen hours of the operation (described as "succcessful" in first reports I obtained later) surgeon reported to me serious complications. He suspected that another gland ( parathyroid) necessary for proper functioning of the thyroid (calcium absorbtion) had "been inadvertantly removed" (his words). This was described (discharge papers) as "ionized hypocalcemia [result of] iatrogenic hypothyroidism"; other words "INDUCED BY A PHYSICIAN IN A PATIENT" in this case, a grave error. Although I tried to learn as much about this as I could, I was never given more information about my dog's aftercare than "we're trying to get her CA levels up to normal (where they were a week before). They never got theere. SHE SPENT SIX DAYS AND FIVE NIGHTS IN THE ICU. I now know that chances for her survival were "less thean 50/50"; that a lifetime of monitering (bloodwork) and CA and vitamin D supplementation and constant vet visits would be necessary if she was to have any sort of the "quality of life" she had before the operation. I feel that with all the extra tests, meds etc. after the third day of her stay there was not much chance for her longterm survival.
During her stay in a cage in the ICU, she suffered a stroke with partial paralysis, constant anxiety and cardiac arrythemia, shortness of breath, inappetance, and partial blindness (she had only one eye to begin with). On her admission paper it says "If your pet's condition changes and requires additional tests and treatments not covered under the initial estimate, you will be contacted as soon as possible." I NEVER RECEIVED AN ESTIMATE BEFORE THIS ADDITIONAL ICU STAY BEGAN- I paid for one post-op night). The "plan of action" was never explained to me face-to-face (I visited once; no DVMs were present). My dog was on 13 different meds during her stay; one was sometheing called ProMace (for fear and anxiety) which I never would have agreed to.
3. My dog was discharged the evening of 5 January, not before I had a perfunctory "discussion" with the person who brought her up from the ICU and deposited her in the draughty, cold hallway, where she promptly fell over (her limbs were being affected already by the lack of calcium). I was presented with a statement for $12, 000, and made to sign an agreement that this would be paid promptly. I did this under extreme emotional duress and without a chance of speaking with my financial adviser.
The dog who returned to our home was a shadow of her former self. Instead of being honest with me (there was no discussion of her prognosis and long-term care) and the long list of "Problems" they gave me, I suspect BluePearl realized she was "hopeless" (I was told by a ICU tech the night before "we really need the cages"). Despite our both trying valiantly, all the meds and nutritional supplements, my around-the-clock nursing care, two trips to the vet, my dog's situation deteriorated (another stroke, about five seizures, no eating, weakness, a severe infection -staph a/c to an ICU- in her right front leg, continual coughing) due to lack of proper calcium absorbtion caused by thee hypoparathyroidism. Her systems began to fail and she was euthanized exactly one week later (12 January), and two weeks after she went into theeBluePearl facility a sprightly, active, fully alert and healthy dog.
4. On 5 March I addressed a carefully worded letter to the manager of the facility, with several questions concerning my dog's care, WHICH HAS NOT BEEN ANSWERED
My own physical and emotional health (I am a senior citizen with HIV disease) suffered greatly. More importantly, for two weeks my animal companion endured immense suffering because of what I firmly believe was inadequate veterinary care.