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veterinary services / failure to diagnose

9717 Baltimore Ave. , College Park, MD 20740College Park, MD, United States Review updated:
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Contact information:
Phone: 301-441-2547
I have been a client of College Park Animal Hospital (CPAH) for two years. During those two years, I was satisfied with the care my pets received and with the manner in which the hospital staff communicated with me and my family. However, in January 2008, my old cat, Smokey, became very ill. I took him to CPAH three times and twice to the ER. CPAH missed a serious and potentially life threatening heart condition in Smokey, even though it was obvious on the X-rays taken by one of its vets (recognized immediately by the emergency vet, by which time it was too late). As a result, Smokey deteriorated quickly without any medication for over two weeks. Alarmed by Smokey's symptoms, I began doing reading on the Internet, which lead me to believe that Smokey might have a serious heart disease and should be treated urgently. I called CPAH, and one of the vets there agreed to put Smokey on rescue medication and refer him to a cardiologist. The medication started helping Smokey right away. Unfortunately, it was given too late, and the disease had progressed and weakened Smokey beyong where he could be helped. The heart condition could have been treated more successfully if caught in time. Smokey died on January 29th at the ER after a sedative was administered to him. One of the veterinarians treating Smokey at CPAH admitted missing the condition, but the other one and the owner of the hospital refuse to acknowledge that mistakes were made (even though one of his staff member admitted them) . To add insult to injury, the owner became defensive and vindictive against me and my family. He has distorted facts, given me false medical explanations, and when I confronted him, began stonewalling. He refused to release Smokey's records and X-rays to me and stopped allowing me and my whole family (including my son's girlfriend) to come onto the premises in order to volunteer with rescued dogs cared for at CPAH, leaving these dogs without the walks and socialization that the four of us have been providing to them prior to the incident.

This is a very sad experience because the hospital has some good people working there. However, when mistakes are made, we should be able to expect maturity, honesty, professionalism and integrity. Instead, in addition to loosing a pet, I was confronted with dishonesty, evasiveness, and nastiness.
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  9th of Nov, 2009
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An update: The veterinarian who treated our cat, Smokey, at College Park Animal Hospital received a formal letter of censure concerning his "failure to recognize cardiomegaly and increased pulmonary interstitial pattern on the thoracic radiographs taken of Smokey on January 8, 2008." This excerpt is from an October 29, 2009 letter from the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, addressed to my wife. The letter goes on to state that prior to accepting censure, this veterinarian "participated in classes offered at a regional conference as a means of improving his ability to read readiographs and ultrasounds." The letter from the State Board also stated that a letter of censure is a matter of public record.

Clients of this hospital are still urged to to BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS, especially with elderly pets, who may be exhibiting signs of a heart disease. Even though one of the veterinarians at College Park Animal Hospital received this additional training, there is no evidence of any such training completed by the others, particularly the owner and the head vet of the hospital, Thomas McMichael, DVM, who apparently believes that congestive heart failure cannot be seen on an X-ray, as per his statement to my wife when she questioned Smokey's treatment. The fact that the primary diagnostic tool for Congestive Heart Failure is an X-ray is a very basic medical fact, and any veterinarian who does not know this basic fact cannot adequately ensure the safety of a pet at risk for heart disease.

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