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Vet malpractice?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Otis broke his leg a month or two ago and the vet put him on some pain medication called meloxicam. After having it for a while he began to throw up and started to become really sick. Eventually we had to have him hospitalized where he was on intensive fluids for about 5 days. He had some seizures while he was in the intensive care unit too. Anyway I started reading about the Meloxicam and I've read that it hasn't been aproved for cats and has a tendancy to cause ulcers and other problems. Has anyone ever heard of this medicine being used for cats or any other related information regarding its use? I ended up spending 1000 for him to be in intensive care which is a lot of money for me. Would this be something I should pursue or just let it go? Is it common for vets to use medicines that aren't approved?
post #2 of 11
So sorry to hear about your little cat. How is he now?

I'm not sure on the law governing drugs approved for pet use is over there (someone from your side of the pond will be able to tell you) but over here in the UK drugs are approved for use on animals (or humans as the case might be) and I think in this country, there would almost certainly be a case for litigation if a vet (or human doctor) used a drug that hadn't been approved to the detriment of the patient.

Please let us know how Otis is.
post #3 of 11
Poor Otis! Lots of healing vibes and prayers for him! I would tell the vet that since s/he prescribed an unapproved medication that caused Otis' intensive care bills that you should be reimbursed for the money.
post #4 of 11
i agree. if it was the vets fault that it happened, then THEY should reimburse you for the money spent to save him.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Otis is doing great, he's been home for about a month now and he's finally putting on weight so I'm not too concerned about that. However I'm wondering how to go about requesting money. Would I need the vet that treated him for his sickness (different vet than the one that treated him for the broken leg and gave the medication) to agree that that's what happened to him? I read a little about suing for malpractice and it basically said that law-suits aren't worth the amount of money you'd get back. Has anyone ever had to sue a vet before?
post #6 of 11
Medicines are often used for uses for which they haven't been approved in both humans and animals. It's called "off-label" use when a medicine which has been approved for one thing is used for something else. If you can document that this medication has a high incidence of problems in cats and shouldn't have been used, they perhaps you have a case. But awards for pain and suffering aren't the case with animals, so the most you could hope for is your expenses. And frankly, for that amount, it's probably not worth it. Perhaps you can negotiate some reduction in the cost with the vet if you have a convincing case that an error was made in giving that medicine.
post #7 of 11
Poor baby Otis! It's good to hear that he's feeling a little better. Anyhow, quite a few medications (such as Otomax (for ear infections) & Metacam) are approved only for use in dogs but many vets across the country use them on cats. When I asked my vet about this practice, she told me that the labeling "approved for use in dogs" meant that the medication COULD be used on cats or other animals as long as it was under the direction & guidance of a DVM. You may have already done this, but I would talk to the original vet's office, the one that prescribed the Metacam, & see if they would be willing to assist you with some of the medical costs. They probably won't, but if I've learned anything in customer service over the years, it's that the squeaky wheel tends to get the grease. They may agree to help with some of the costs just to get you to leave them alone Good luck with whatever you choose; I'll be thinking good thoughts for Otis' continued improvement.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies from everyone. I've been doing a little research and it has been approved for injectable use for cats but not orally (which is what they had prescribed) And even when it is used in cats it should not be used for a prolonged period of time (more than 7 days or so) and they had prescribed it to be used daily for 3 weeks or until his leg was healed. Otis literatly was on the brink of death. His temperature dropped down to 95 (I believe the norm is around 101) and he experienced seizures and was basically comatose. The medicine is correlated with renal failure, which is exactly what happened to him. Now I'm having a hard time finding a pet insurance company that will cover him because he's a liability. I spoke to my mom about this and she said basically what coaster said, pain and suffering wouldn't be included and it might not be worth it. I may confront him about it and see what his explanation is but I'm afraid that he won't agree to compensate me for it. Are there any vets out there that have had an experience with this and could give me an alternative point of view? Should I ask that future services up to a certain amount be covered from him so that neither of us is really losing out?
post #9 of 11
Our practice uses Meloxicam regularly in cats, injectable and oral. It is one of the safest pain medications out there. You always have to be careful with cats though, they are not just small dogs and they metabolize drugs differently. I have never seen any adverse effects of this drug although it is rare that we would perscribe it for more than 5 days. I would definitely bring this up with the vet that perscribed the drug. He/she needs to know what happened so that in the future they will be more cautious. A good vet will listen to you carefully and be grateful for the feedback. A great vet will help you with the cost
post #10 of 11
A lot of feline medicine is "off-label" use, so just because something has not been approved for use in cats, it does not mean that it is a bad idea to use it.

I would say to document everything, bring it to the original vet's attention, and leave it at that. If you want you can file a complaint with the state vet board but unless a law has been violated, there will be no consequences. And if there was a violation of the law, for all but the most egregious offenses the consequence is a reprimand and a fine of a few hundred dollars. It's probably not worth it in this case.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Yea, I'm begining to think that it won't be worth it. I don't necissarily want to sue I just would like to have a direct answer that yes this is what caused him to become sick. He also probably has permanant damage to his liver and kidneys and it just makes me irrate to know it could have been prevented. I even called the vet (that prescribed the medication) when Otis started throwing up and asked him if I should stop the medication. He said to stop it for one day and then continue to medicate him after that! I refused to continue to medicate him with it and that may have been one of his saving graces. So maybe I'll just bring it to the vets attention and see what he does about it. I've spent a good chunk of money there (having 3 cats that always seem to be sick!) so I may just explain that I'm not going to be coming back and let him make that choice. Thanks everyone
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