The Importance of Reading A Patient’s History

Two weeks ago Rory had surgery to repair a ruptured disc in her neck caused by Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). Today she had her post-surgery check-up and stitch removal.  Unfortunately, Dr S who performed Rory’s surgery was on leave so we had an appointment to see Dr G, who saw Rory whilst she was in hospital and incidentally is a close friend of my former boss.

However, after waiting half an hour another vet came into the waiting room asking to see Roxy.  It took a while for Lela and I to realise she meant us and Rory.  Strike one – get the pet’s name right.

She made some small talk and asked if Rory’s hind leg paralysis had resolved itself.  Strike two – get the details of the pet’s injury correct.

I corrected her and told her that Rory didn’t have any neurological defects, just severe neck pain. ‘Oh’, she said, ‘well has her problems with movement gotten better?’  Strike three- listen to what the owner is saying.  Rory never experienced any neurological defects which means no hind leg paralysis or movement issues. She was starting to piss me off at that stage, so it was probably a good idea that she take Rory to get her stitches removed.

After a couple of minutes she came back with Rory and gushed about how cute she was and how soft she felt.  Yes, my beagle girl is damn cute.

Rory has spent two weeks on strict crate rest and I wanted to know how quickly she could get back to normal activities and how we should go about it.  I give the vet the details of Rory’s post-op treatment and ask about getting her back to normal activities.  ‘About 4 to 6 weeks’, she replies.  From my research I know that dogs with paralysis need 4 to 6 weeks, but was unsure if those dogs without these issues also need the same amount.

Then she goes on about referring Rory to an animal physiotherapist to help Rory regain loss function and muscle.  She hasn’t listened to a single thing I have said about Rory.  She is still thinking that all cases of disc rupture involve some form of paralysis.  I tell her that we don’t need a referral and she gives me a look which conveys that I am not doing the right thing for Rory.

We leave before I tell her what I think about her complete inability to not only read Rory’s history before seeing us but to listen to what I am telling her even if it conflicts with how she thinks IVDD cases present themselves.

So now I have no idea how to proceed with Rory’s rehabilitation and the internet is no help because all information is about dogs who experience paralysis due to IVDD.

At the moment I am letting Rory some time out of her crate and Rory being Rory has jumped on and off the couch twice before I could stop her.  The one single activity Rory should not be doing at this stage.

I am going to call Dr S on Monday and find out what I really should be doing.

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2 responses to “The Importance of Reading A Patient’s History

  1. Rory is lucky to have someone so vigilant. I’ve discovered firsthand that we need to be our own (or our loved ones’ own) most outspoken advocates where health care is concerned. Thank you for sharing a real-life example that brings this point home.

  2. Denise: That was my concern too. I am fortunate I used to be a vet nurse and also I have a personal interest in all things medical and therefore I researched her condition. However, most owners aren’t in that position and would believe what the vets told them without question.
    I hope your own situation had a good outcome.