Friday, June 29, 2007

The Importance of Medical Records

The Importance of Medical Records

When a doctor of any kind is trying to make a diagnosis – determine the underlying disease so it can be treated aggressively and correctly –they have to be a detective. Like a detective each piece of evidence is critical to solving the crime or in our case making an accurate diagnosis. One key piece of information that is often overlooked is the medical history. Now when I say medical history I am not talking about invoices. Over the years when asked by the pet owner for the medical history they often hand the receptionist invoices of visits to previous veterinary hospitals. These list things the owner was charged for and give minimal information. When I say medical records I am talking about what was written in the pets chart by the receptionist, technician, and doctors. It would include history given by the owner, vaccination history, all laboratory results, treatments given, physical exam findings, differential diagnosis, treatment sheets during hospitalization , x rays taken etc. Often times the diagnosis is actually made by reading the records and getting a good history rather than the physical exam findings.
It’s sad to say but some veterinary hospitals are reluctant to give out this information. There are multiple reasons for this including illegible records, (can’t read the doctors handwriting), incomplete records, missing records or even doctors who withhold records because the owner is going elsewhere for a second opinion.
I own an emergency hospital in Avon, Ct and we cover when the owners regular vet is closed. In some cases the pet is being treated for cancer with chemotherapy or other serious diseases. When the referring vet is available after hours to give us the medical history we can treat the pet quickly appropriately often saving its life. When medical records and history are not available our ability to treat quickly and correctly drops dramatically even to the loss of the pet. There is hope however and that is with a visionary website. With this website a pet owner can have their pet’s records current and available. When the need arises the veterinarian treating the pet can quickly access the records and have this crucial information. Technology is wonderful when used appropriately and this is one of those times. I applaud the visionaries who started this concept and encourage all pet owners to utilize the service. It could save your pets life!
Dr. Robb

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dr. Robb speaks with Animal Radio about an Urgent Matter

I had the opportunity to talk about a very urgent issue for us with Animal Radio: Who’s Caring for your Pets After Business Hours? Listen to the interview here, or read about it at Animal Radio. Thank you Judy & Hal!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

One Stop Shop for Special Needs Pets

There are many pets with special needs, and this one stop shop for pet owners with special needs pets is a great idea. offers support, products and services to pet owners with disabled pets with special needs; senior, geriatric, disabled, injured, recovering from surgery, cancer, terminal illness, and handicapped pets. The site includes a list of resources for care givers and a community where people can share ideas and stories. And here’s a nod to HandicappedPets for sharing this truth on its home page.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." -- Gandhi

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Friday, June 15, 2007

The Pets tongue came Off!

Years ago I was treating a boa constrictor for "mouth rot". The name aptly describes the condition as infection sets into the mouth resulting in abscesses and sometime loss of life. I had hospitalized the snake for treatment and after a week he improved and the big day came for the snake to go home. The owner would have to do some flushing of the mouth but otherwise he seemed good to go. By the way I knew it was a male because I "probed" him but we will leave that for another story or if your super curious ask I and I will tell you what probing a snake means... Anyway I had a tech and the owner in the room and was demonstration how to flush the snake’s mouth out with an antibiotic wash. All of the sudden I see the snakes tongue on the gauze detached from the mouth. I said," Excuse me Mrs. Smith we have to take your snake into the other room to check on something". The tech and I left the room as the owner did not see the tongue come off. This is not a common occurrence as it never happened to me before. The tech looked at me horrified and said, "Can he live without a tongue?". I said I hope so. We then went back in the room and explained it all to the owner. Mrs. Smith didn't seem too worried because it was her son's snake and honestly she didn't want it anyway. I never did hear how he did. I can only tell you he stopped singing in the bathtub. Have a great weekend! Dr. Robb

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This Veterinarian's Worst Nightmare

Let’s face it, when a pet dies it’s over, there is no going back. Like the loss of any life it’s the most difficult thing we as humans go through. It’s so final, never to see that beloved animal again. The worst nightmare for me as a vet was to call a pet owner to tell them their pet had died, especially if it was unexpected. I remember once I made the call and said, “ Mrs. Smith I have bad news, Fluffy died” I will never forget it, the phone hit the floor and then a scream of sheer anguish pierced my ears as she cried at the top of her lungs NO! NO! NO! I held the phone waiting for someone to pick up again, more screams followed and finally the husband picked up the phone, muttered something to me and hung up. I stood there in shock and said to myself, “I can’t do this anymore”.
I often think of being a plumber and fixing a leaky faucet. What happens if I make a mistake - a flooded cellar? - a ruined chair or warped floor? All these things are replacable, fixable but not when the animal dies. For those of us who are doctors it’s a huge weight on our shoulders. Being a vet is not for everyone.
It’s inevitable that all pets die. Sadly their life span is so much less than ours we will have many come and go in a lifetime. People often respond to their pet’s death with the statement I will never have another one again – it hurts too much. I remember one lady had a toy poodle. She and her husband loved the little guy and he lived 15 years. Eventually he developed kidney failure and we had to put him to sleep. I never liked to say euthanize. It sounds much better to say put them to sleep. Three years went by since I saw this couple. Then one day I was in the supermarket and they came up the aisle. The wife saw me and began to cry and literally left the shopping cart full and walked out of the store. One week later she came to my hospital with a toy poodle. She told me the dog showed up at her door and she was beaming with her new dog. The circle was complete and she finally healed.
We as veterinarians must walk with integrity and do all we can to help the pet. This is why we can never put profits over pets. This is why there must be a Protect the Pets movement. We can’t save them all. Sometimes we too make mistakes. We are human after all. The important thing is our heart must be in the right place. The pets and the owners who love them are depending on us.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Join the Protect the Pets Movement

Veterinary Medicine is changing rapidly. Its important pet owners understand what’s changing and why in order to get great veterinary care for their pets. Dr. Robb leads a national movement called Protect the Pets. He believes educating pet owners allows them to get great veterinary care and drive the changes necessary to improve the profession. Forty veterinarians have joined the movement and subscribe to his Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct is the heart and soul of the movement. You can view this Code of Conduct by going to the website - and clicking on the Veterinary section. Remember, being an educated consumer is the most important thing you can do to Protect the Pets.Join the movement by going to the website and signing up. Talk to your veterinarian about joining the movement and subscribing to the Protect the Pets Code of Conduct. Your Pets life may depend on it!