A REGULATOR has issued advice to a Hereford vet following an investigation which was prompted by a complaint from a devastated city dog owner.
Mark Davies took his 11-yearold Lhasa Apso ‘Billy’ to Holmer Veterinary Surgery after the pet was hit by a car on Holmer Road on Saturday, February 27, 2016.
The 36-year-old said the surgery had looked after Billy – who he had an extremely close bond with – since he was a puppy and had always provided ‘excellent’ care.
Following the crash, care was provided by a vet called Phil Adams – who had not dealt with Billy previously – and he advised that the dog had a broken pelvis.
Billy needed to stay in overnight but despite repeated requests, Mr Davies was told he could not stay with his pet and says he was informed Billy would be checked on throughout the night.
He says he did receive one call from Mr Adams around one hour after leaving the surgery, when he was advised that Billy’s ‘colour had come back’.
However, Mr Davies discovered the following morning that his beloved pet had died overnight and that he had not been checked on since the initial phone call the previous evening.
He says he felt forced to complain to the Royal College oVeterinary S u r g e o n s about the vet because of the lack of care and a t t e n t i o n given to his dog.
The Preliminary Investigations Committee (PIC) of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons identified a number of key issues relating to the lack of care given to Billy by Mr Adams – including a lack of appropriate pain relief, a lack of fluid therapy and a lack of monitoring.
In each instance, the PIC said it did not consider the threshold into serious professional misconduct had been crossed, however it did issue advice to Mr Adams from its own code of conduct.
Mr Davies said: “This has devastated my family and me. We are still trying to get over the loss of Billy.
“It is now too late for Billy, he is gone and it’s going to take a lifetime to get over that, but I just don’t want this to happen to any other person.”
The PIC concluded there was ‘no realistic prospect’ of a finding of serious professional misconduct or that the matter could be referred to a disciplinary committee.
But it did have concerns about Mr Adams’ failure to monitor Billy overnight and in relation to pain relief and lack of fluid.
It would be appropriate, it said, to hold the matter open against Mr Adams for two years.
If a similar concern is received during that period, the complaint may be revisited.
Responding to a request for a response from the Hereford Times, Phil Adams reiterated that the preliminary investigation carried out by the Royal College concluded Mr Davies’ complaint did not warrant disciplinary action. He said: “I attended the surgery immediately after the call from the owners on the night of Saturday February 27 2016 and provided prompt care for Billy after he was involved in a road accident whilst off his lead.
“I also treated Mr Davies injuries and gave him and his mother a lift home after the incident.
“Unfortunately despite the care and treatment agreed with Mr Davies, due to the extent of Billy’s injuries he passed away during the night.
“We always give first class treatment to our patients and are known to be a caring and compassionate surgery.
“Once again we at Holmer Vets offer Mr Davies our sincere condolences.”
Mr Davies said that he now plans to appeal the decision of the PIC.
KEY issues identified by the Preliminary Investigations Committee (PIC) of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon include:
- Lack of Monitoring – When Mr Adams checked on Billy between 9pm and 10pm, he said Billy was settling nicely, his colour was coming back and his pain was well controlled.
He said as Billy was showing signs of improvement, he felt able to leave him overnight until the following morning.
The PIC was concerned about this decision, particularly because in his comments, Mr Adams stated ‘it is highly likely Billy had whiplash injuries to the brain following the impact’ and he was ‘mindful that intra-cranial bleeding or swelling were potential risk factors’.
The PIC considered if Mr Adams thought they may be traumatic brain injury, he should have checked on Billy more frequently. However, it considered that Mr Adams made a clinical judgement based on his findings on the evening.
- Lack of pain relief – One dose of pain relief administered and the next not until 12 hours later. The PIC noted pelvic fractures can be very painful if unstable and the level of analgesia provided was inadequate.
- Lack of fluid therapy – Billy would have benefitted from a drip to assist with recovery and treat shock. But Mr Adams made decision not to based on clinical judgement.
- Communication regarding prognosis - At its highest, Mr Adams could be said to have been ‘over-optimistic’ about Billy’s prognosis.
- The PIC said the threshold into serious professional misconduct was not crossed in any case.