Thursday, March 31, 2011

380. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca in old Shih Tzus - Duty of care

Many times, an owner of old Shih Tzus would consult the vet for some problems that are not related to the eyes, such as diarrhoea. Many times, the vet will see dry eyes as shown in the image.

Since the owner has not complained about the keratoconjunctivitis sicca, the vet would just treat the diarrhoea, ear infections or skin disease and that would all.

Has the vet a duty of care to educate the owner that she needs to use eyedrops to relieve the dog's discomfort & pain in dry eyes when the consultation is not related to the eyes?

What is a duty of care of a veterinarian when the dog is presented for diarrhoea? It is to correctly treat the diarrhoea. Therefore, the vet needs not bother with the dry eyes.

However, many Singapore pet owners are unaware that they can relieve the old Shih Tzu's dry eye discomfort and pain. The owner attributes dry eyes to old age and so what? The old dog rubs his ulcerated eyes daily. It is due to old age!

Once a vet bothers to educate the owner, she usually takes the time and trouble to ensure that the eyes are wetted and lubricated.

I usually advise clipping away the hairs around the eyes so that the facial area can be well cleaned and applying eye drops minimum twice a day. I was manning the counter to get a feel of the front-line veterinary matters.

Recently, an older woman phoned to get the eye drops prescribed by my associate vet. "I have to give you another brand," I said. "It is from the same company. The brand you want is being ordered."

"Please get for me ....eye drops next time," the woman in her 50s said. "The dog's eyes are now much cleaner with that brand."



A responsibility or a legal obligation of a person or organization to avoid acts or omissions (which can be reasonably foreseen) to be likely to cause harm to others.

Duty of care is owed by an accountant in correctly preparing a firm's accounts, by an auditor in confirming an firm's financial statements correctly present its financial position, by a director to shareholders in husbanding the enterprise's resources, by a manufacturer to consumers for the safety of product, and by every party to a contract to the other contracting parties.

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