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Hi, my name is Hailee and I am new to the forums. I have an 11-year-old Golden named Josie. This is going to be a lengthy post, but I have had a serious issue arise with an emergency vet and don't know what to do so any advice/support would be appreciated.

On June 18, Josie was lethargic, had little appetite, and exercise intolerant. I took her to the vet. Her gums were very pale so the vet did an ultrasound and located a tumor on her spleen and blood in her abdomen. The vet then did an x-ray of her chest - there did not appear to be any tumor spread. Given this, I decided to go ahead with a splenectomy. However, it was mid-afternoon so I had to take her to an emergency hospital.

A doctor at the emergency hospital did her intake. I obviously had no time to do any research, so I asked if there was any way to diagnose whether it was malignant or benign without surgery. The doctor said there was not any reliable way. Given this I decided to go ahead with the surgery so that she would feel better AND so that the tumor could be tested. I then asked the vet a few questions such as, "Is the tumor tested in house or sent to a lab?" and "How many days will it take to get the results back?"

That evening, a different doctor called me to tell me Josie had done very well in surgery. I asked if there had been any visible evidence of cancer spread (because the intake doctor said sometimes they got into surgery and could immediately tell) and the doctor said he could not tell for sure - there were some nodules on the liver but it was not clear to him whether they were malignant tumors or just benign nodules from old age. We picked her up two days later and the people at the front desk said, "We will be calling you with your lab results in about 10 days."

Ten days passed and I was getting anxious so I called. The vet who did the surgery called back and said there was a misunderstanding - he did not know I wanted the tumor tested so it was never sent out and the sample had been discarded of!

He was apologetic and then, despite telling me he couldn't tell what was going on the night of the sugary, told me he is "about 90% sure it's hemangiosarcoma." I know the statistics also say it is likely to be hemangiosarcoma but 90% and 100% are *not* the same thing!

I am furious at the emergency vet hospital for messing this up. I very clearly communicated to the intake vet what I wanted so clearly there was a communication mistake on their end. Plus the receptionists told us when to expect the lab results when we picked her up! Additionally, I talked to my regular vet and he said that in this kind of case, you would always test the tumor unless the client specifically asked you not to because there is a vastly different prognosis depending on the results.

Josie has fully recovered at this point and my vet said she looks great but from other posts I have read, it seems some dogs with hemangiosarcoma were similarly "back to normal" post surgery. I guess I am just hoping people can give me some advice on what to look for or clues as to what is going on with Josie.

I suppose at the end of the day, knowing one way or the other wouldn't make a huge difference for Josie, because regardless, I will do my best to keep her healthy and happy and no matter what, make decisions that are best for her. Still, I just feel like not knowing is preventing me from being fully informed to make the best decisions for her should any other issues with her health arise. I am also moving out of state at the end of this month and so I am worried - if she is really sick, is putting her through the stress of moving going to make things worse?

I have asked if there was any other way at this point to test for hemangiosarcoma and my vet said, there was not a reliable method - the best shot was the tumor on the spleen. The vet at the emergency hospital who messed up said we could do a liver biopsy. He described it as "non-invasive" but I did additional research and found that she would have to be put under for the procedure. It seems like that might be more risky than helpful given her age and her recent major surgery? Plus, he did not offer at that time to do it for free, which I think would be appropriate given their mistake.

Sorry this post is a novel, I am just frustrated and scared and don't know what to do or what to expect. Does anyone have any advice?
 

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I would be furious too. Granted, it isn't going to change what you do, but it was poor practice, with no chance of correction.

Personally, I wouldn't do the biopsy at this point. The risk from a second anesthesia at this point is significant (my vet and my doctors try very hard to avoid using anesthesia more often than once a year) and it isn't going to change what you are going to do.

Let your vet know what happened. I don't know if there is more than one emergency vet in your area, but it might change who your vet uses.

I am so sorry you are going through this. I lost my <3 boy to lymphoma. It's very sad they don't live longer.
 

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Beware of Nestle Purina
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I would closely look at my bill and dispute some charges as appropriate.

Wishing your furrbutt a full and cancer free recovery.
 
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Kate
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Make sure you didn't pay for the biopsy! If they charged you, then I'd be busting down the door getting my money back! If anything, I would see about getting her heart, lungs, and liver checked out for status quo and play it by ear as far as how often you have them rechecked.

One thing I feel is this is only urgent if you intend to pursue chemo or other methods to fight cancer if cancer was confirmed. If you plan to fight, then early detection is extremely important.

With my Danny we opted not to have the biopsy done on the basis that we would not put him through any chemo. And then of course he never woke up after surgery so it wouldn't have mattered.
 

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That's a major mistake, and actually ridiculous for it to have happened since it is standard procedure to send tumors out for testing.

I agree you need to review your bill and make sure they didn't charge you for the lab work that was not done.
 

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You received excellent comments and unfortunately you cannot go back and undo the errors. Now the most important thing is your dog's health. Since you're moving you might want to find a vet in the new area and possibly have a consult with them in advance so they have some background information. Dogs are pretty amazing so I hope you have lots of time with your dog. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone for the comments so far! Whenever my vet at home has charged me for lab work, it has said "Histopathology." It does not appear my invoice has that charge on it, although there is a line for "Professional Services"? I am not sure what that is?

At this point, I would not do chemotherapy (especially since we do not know for sure what it is). However, I have ordered "I'm-yunity," which I read has promising results in terms of improving quality of life and lengthening life for dogs with hemangiosarcoma. I think I will move forward with this treatment since it is natural - even if she does not have cancer, it will not hurt for her to be on a natural immune-system boosting treatment. Has anyone else tried this before?
 

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This vet also needs to be reported to your state veterinary licensing association. This is NOT ok, and needs to be reprimanded.
How do you go about reporting this type of thing? And where does one find the rules/guidelines their state enforces? I guess I am just wondering on what grounds I would report this so that the board would not just dismiss it as a "mistake"?
 

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Beware of Nestle Purina
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I would call and ask "What are professional services?". Especially since they were not professional!
 
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How do you go about reporting this type of thing? And where does one find the rules/guidelines their state enforces? I guess I am just wondering on what grounds I would report this so that the board would not just dismiss it as a "mistake"?
Here's the link for Ohio. I'm so sorry for what you're all going through!
AAVSB.org - Regulatory Agencies
 

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As a human medical professional I am dumbfounded they didn't send a portion of the removed specimen for pathology. That is simply standard procedure.

Maybe animals are different.

Again, simply speechless.
 

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Of course, it is upsetting, but right now the most important thing is to think about your baby. I know somebody used some pills before that is suppose to keep bleeding in check, but I cannot think about the name of it. I will try to find out.
My Golden died of hemangiosarcoma a little over three months ago, it was too late for him and it had spread to his heart, spleen and liver.
I would say, watch your fur kid really closely, any time she seems lethargic, won't eat, pale gums, swollen appearing abdomen, labored breathing, any of the above, take her to the vet immediately. Given all the symptoms she had in your original post, I would think yes, hemangiosarcoma and treat her accordingly. I agree with no chemo, personally. If my Toby had made it, if he had the cancer only in his spleen and the spleen had been removed, I would not have done chemo. Most of the time, hemangiosarcoma is terminal within a short period of time, either way about it. Why make them suffer more with the little time they have left? Sorry if I am being blunt. But, there are so few instances where a dog will live for several months with this cancer, so I would rather be prepared and make life more comfortable for her and spoil her rotten.
Anyway, good look to Josie, I hope she will be feeling good and will be around for a long time to come. Who knows, maybe she is one of the lucky ones.
 

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It appears that the Ohio Veterinary Medicine Licensing Board (OVMLB)keeps records of complaints against veterinarians and has some kind of disciplinary process. Filing a complaint with them may not do anything to help your sweet Josie, but it might help to prevent someone else from experiencing such a nightmare.

The OVMLB site is here: OVMLB. Look near the top of the left panel for complaint information.

Hugs and prayers for Josie and for you.
 

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This makes me so sad for you and angry at the malpractice/negligence of this vet. It is standard practice to do histopathy on tumors that are removed.

You say you would not do chemotherapy; however, the vet's malpractice leaves you wondering and in limbo. I've heard the stats on hemangio are actually more like 75% and I know from years of reading posts on this forum that some people are in that lucky 25% who get a benign diagnosis. You will never know absent some expensive and risky procedures. As a result you may be worrying needlessly and your Josie may be one of those lucky benign girls. As it stands you will always wonder and worry- and that is emotionally stressful and diminishes your time with your girl. My heart aches for you- I'd never want to be left in limbo like that.

I would report this malpractice and I would send a letter to the clinic management and outline your concerns and ask them to refund your money for this botched procedure. That's what they should do at a minimum.... if they were resistant or unfeeling I'd be thinking of other ways to get this out in the public so others aren't faced with this dilemma in the future.
 
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