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Importance Of A Second Opinion


Guest Tigonie
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Guest Tigonie

Here's an interesting article from today's Washington Post about medical misdiagnosis in dogs. The article features a greyhound, but of course applies to any pet. Just goes to show how important it is to get a second opinion.

 

For those who are not (or don't want to be) registered, here's the article, with a link to the original:

 

 

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Medical Error Is For the Dogs, Too - Sunday, September 2, 2007; Page B08, Washington Post

 

It was an absolutely devastating moment when we learned from our veterinarian that our sweet brown and white greyhound Finnegan had two months to live.

 

But when we went to pick up our dog, our vet told us he had been surprised that the biopsy -- whose results had been verified by two pathologists at Penn -- revealed that Finnegan had osteosarcoma, a painful and aggressive form of bone cancer. We would need to put him down within days if we wanted to spare him the pain.

 

The next few moments will be seared in our minds forever. As Finnegan was brought into the room, his face lit up as he saw us. Despite his slow hobble, his pace quickened as he came to both of us kneeling on the floor to greet him. We began to cry as we held Finnegan close and petted him, bathing his head in our tears. After a few terrible days, we decided to spare him the pain and scheduled an appointment to put him down.

 

The day before he was to be put down, we were just not feeling comfortable with what our vet was telling us, because Finnegan seemed to be recovering. So we decided to get a second opinion.

 

We reached out to Dr. Guillermo Couto, a leading expert on greyhound medicine at Ohio State University. After graciously reviewing Finnegan's file and meeting us, all of Couto's experts agreed that our dog's biopsy had been misread and he did not have osteosarcoma. Months later, instead of having cancer, Finnegan has made a full recovery. What is most shocking is that we almost euthanized him -- and we would have never known the difference.

 

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, more than 63 percent of U.S. households have pets; this includes some 73 million dogs and 90 million cats. Americans spend a fortune on their pets, almost $40 billion in 2006 alone, of which more than $9 billion was for veterinary care. And yet, do people know what they are buying?

 

We know that medical error is a serious problem for humans. In a 2005 survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 34 percent of patients with health problems in the United States reported experiencing various preventable errors. Almost 200,000 people a year die from likely in-hospital medical errors, according to a HealthGrades study. Thus, one can only imagine how serious a problem this is in veterinary medicine. But unlike people, who usually speak up for themselves if treatment is not working, our pets rely on us to take care of them. We almost let Finnegan down. People should remember that veterinarians and their laboratories can make mistakes. When in doubt, and especially if the diagnosis just doesn't feel right, get a second opinion.

 

-- Lisa and Jared Genser

Bethesda

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Guest DorianGreyhound

Wow... makes me so sad :( I put my guy down at age four due to Osteo before he was in a really bad state. Gives me nightmares to think maybe he could have been saved.

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I just read this on another board and feel that Dr. Couto and his staff are the best. Congtats for a happy ending!!

 

 

Same here about Dr. Couto.

 

I think it is extremely important to seek a second opinion in event of serious illness. I get 2 different opinions in the same vet clinic on something so simple as do you or don't you run a thyroid medicine trial?

 

I'm really happy that Finnegan's story has a happy ending.

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Guest Tigonie

Yep, and it's not like you have to bring in Dr. Couto on everything, but at least an independent vet. I guess we're lucky in some ways, having moved so much, because I can go back to one of our previous vets for a 2nd opinion on things (which is what I did with Emma's kidney values).

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I have no experience with Dr. Couto, but from everything I have read and heard, he is an absolute Godsend to Greyhounds and Greyhounds' people! May he find an answer soon...

 

But, I do know what it means to have a second opinion. A few years ago, our Gunnar (now gone), started coughing. We took him in, and they did an chest x-ray. They said they saw a mass in his chest, and it was inoperable. Mind you, they did ONE view, and barely looked at the film.

 

So, a couple weeks after the diagnosis, we decided we needed a second opinion. We went to a vet about 30 miles away, because the adoption group that we were with used him. And, he had done over 300 Greyhound spays/neuters after the local track had closed meny years before. This guy (and his staff) KNOW Greyhounds.

 

So, he took a look at the film, and didn't see a mass. He asked his other vets to look at the film, and they did not see a mass. They then did their own fims, and found cloudiness in the lungs, but no mass. They decided that the coughing could be attributed to the cloudiness, which they thought was allergy-related. Gunnar went on Pred and Theophilline for a week or so, and was FINE afterward. We then switched to this vet, despite the distance, and have been VERY HAPPY since.

Sarah, the human, Henley, and Armani the Borzoi boys, and Brubeck the Deerhound.
Always in our hearts, Gunnar, Naples the Greyhounds, Cooper and Manero, the Borzoi, and King-kitty, at the Rainbow Bridge.

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I have already made some similar experiences with vets over here, which led to the conclusion that veterinarians

often make things worse instead of better. My friend's Irish Setter was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma by a local vet

and his owners were told that the dog had 2 more months to live. Devastated by that terrible news they got a second

opnion and the result was that the dog had Arthritis and lived for many more years...

 

My Borzoi was misdiagnosed when he had a tick disease. The treatment was too late...he died.

 

My Greyhound was misdiagnosed with IBD and according to the vets he should have undergone endoscopy and Cortison treatment for a lifetime...fortunately I didn't believe it and just took my hound off ALL chemicals and unnecessary meds

which mixed her organism up, didn't vaccine her anymore and gave her a home made diet...

My hound never, ever got bloody stools again...

 

 

--------------------------------------------

user posted imageuser posted image

Marion, Ivy & Soldi

 

Perseverance is not a long race...

it is many short races one after another.

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Guest SillyDog

I just got a second opinion for my un-tattooed grey Prancer. He'd had a skin infection and right about that time he started acting just not quite himself. He was more lethargic, in pain it seemed and wasn't always eating his food. Even after asking if it could be related to his chronic Ehrlichia our regular vet said, no, he's on old dog and all we can do is just treat his symptoms. He's always been a peppy guy for his age, and so I wanted to be sure it was all age related. I took him to a different vet and it turns out that not only does he have disc disease in his neck, he's quite possibly feeling the effects of 2-3 different tick borne diseases. We're treating his neck with metacam and accupuncture and the TBDs with doxycycline. On top of all of that, the new vet places his age at 9 instead of 11. I'm so glad I got a second opinion, and I think Prancer will be too once the doxy starts to work. It's scary to think I could have went with what the first vet said and basically left him tired and in pain for the rest of his life.

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We had a similar experience although not so dramatic. My regular vet couldn't figure out what was wrong with Reggie my JRT. He was getting sicker and sicker so we were referred to a specialist. My regular vet thought that he was VERY ill and might be dying. The specialist thought he looked pretty good for a 14 yr old JRT and diagnosed him with high blood pressure. Now on meds, Reggie is pretty much back to normal :)

 

I guess the main difference in my situation is that the vet recommended a second opinion which I greatly appreciated.

 

When Oba got really sick a year ago, my vet also made a referral but poor Oba got so sick so fast and declined rapidly that I was sure he was dying and couldn't see putting him through any thing else. Part of me will always wonder what the specialist would have found.

 

I have learned over the years that I always second guess myself after I have to euthanize one of my dogs or horses. I work to accept that I make the best decision I can with the information I have at the time. That's really the best any of us can do.

 

Susan

Edited by smday

Lexi the pointeresque mutt (1999), Homer the chi mix (2010) and Lacey the ? (2009). Always remembering Dita, Best, Oba, Bubba, and the others at the bridge.

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If we had only got a 2nd opinion the day our vet was "99.9% sure" that Alex had obstruction from the corn cobs, we would have saved him from a near death experience and much pain and agony. We would have also saved $10,000 in medical bills to save him from her mistake/poor judgment!! We will always get a 2nd opinion from now on if we don't feel comfortable with the first dx.

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it's very important. when my vet diagnosed phene with arthritis, i still had my doubts. turned out her had babesia. i hate to think what the consequences may have been if i didn't get that second opinion.

siggy_robinw_tbqslg.jpg
Xavi the galgo and Peter the cat. Missing Iker the galgo ?-Feb.9/19, Treasure (USS Treasure) April 12/01-May 6/13, Phoenix (Hallo Top Son) Dec.14/99-June 4/11 and Loca (Reko Swahili) Oct.9/95 - June 1/09, Allen the boss cat, died late November, 2021, age 19.

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Unfortunately you have to get past the residents and interns to get a doctor. My girl Diamond was misdiagnosed as not having broken ribs. They took a picture of the WRONG side! Which I didn't realize until I got home (an hour away).

 

 

And my local vet misdiagnosed Pearl with myocitis and put her on prednizone. A nasty drug for a grey with uncontrolled hypertension. It was an abscessed tooth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest mirthlesstroll
I wonder if Finnegans owners are here on GT? This was a great article. We need to clone Dr. Couto!

I don't know if Finnegan's owners are on GT, but I have "met" them through Greyt Expectations Greyhound Rescue, out of MD. I agree - The GH world needs about a thousand Dr.Coutos!!!

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Guest Tigonie
Dr. Couto is coming to our (GHG's) Reunion and speaking on the 22nd. So excited about this!!

He'll be speaking twice at Dewey, too. He's definitely a busy guy!

 

I guess to me the point of the article is, vets are people, and they make mistakes just like everyone--even good vets. If you don't feel comfortable with a diagnosis and/or if it's a major issue--like a choice whether to undergo expensive treatment or PTS--it is worth having a pair of fresh eyes look at things.

 

I personally like to get copies of all lab results. I wish vets would make it a standard practice to give test results to their clients, but maybe most people aren't interested. :dunno I also try to ask questions about everything and sometimes will follow up with a phone call if I'm not sure of something. I think a lot of people go to the vet (or the doctor) with the thought of, "Take care of me." I personally see myself as a partner to medical professionals. They are my expert advisors, but it's up to me to take care of things on a day-to-day basis, and it's up to me to be as educated as possible.

Edited by Tigonie
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Guest mirthlesstroll

I agree with Tigonie - vets are human, and can make honest mistakes. It is up to the owner to be educated about their dogs' health, and ask those hard questions. I think more vets would offer test results if it became common practice for owners to request them. I am going to start asking for hard copies of my kiddo's values.

One of our group found this online.

 

http://www.agcouncil.com/mediaDetail.cfm?page=FFYREJKZ

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Guest snowberry

This is a coincidence - funny how posts on Greytalk always seem to mirror what's happening in my life: four months ago, Herbie had a lymph node removed for biopsy. Suspected lymphoma, and fine needle aspirates aren't always accurate, but removing the entire node was supposed to be a definitive test. Came back negative. After various other tests, vet decided it was auto-immune, and after a poor experience with one drug, wanted to start another. I asked for a second opinion, and it took ages - finally, finally yesterday four and a half months after the initial biopsy, Herbie has tested positive for lymphoma, and it's now fairly advanced.

 

No one makes mistakes deliberately, it was an accident, rare for these things not to show, etc. etc. But I could have been treating my boy for one thing while he quietly died of something else :( Second opinions are good.

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