Friday, October 7, 2011

664. Follow up: Good practice to phone the owner after surgery

"What is happening mum? What's happening?..." I heard a distant voice as I spoke to the mother one hour after the surgical excision of the hamster.

This was the hamster that Vet 1 had said would die under anaesthesia and had given unacceptable advices to cause distress to the daughter. The Vet 1's advice was to wait till the tumour bleeds. Then bring the hamster to Vet 1 to be put to sleep.

The right thing to do would be to refer the mother and daughter to another vet or just ask them to seek their own vets. Unacceptable advices greatly distress the owners as the young girl wept for the past 3 days thinking about the impending horrible painful bleeding of the tumour. And she had examinations to be done during this period of time. The poor mum was really stressed out by such advices too as she contacted me by phone.

In pragmatic terms, get the daughter's hamster put to sleep immediately so that she would focus on her examinations. Is it as easy as that? No. There must be another solution as it was Friday and the coming Monday would be examination day.

Well, Dr Vanessa had excised the tumour. There was no death and the hamster started to jump onto the exercise wheel around one hour post-op. She was unsteady for around 15 minutes after the end of surgery.

I phoned the mother to let her know the good outcome and to confirm that she did not want histopathology of the tumour done. "How much?" she asked. "$150," I said. I guessed the daughter must be in her study room and had overhead bits of the mother's hamster conversation and was worried that something had gone wrong. Perhaps her hamster had died post-op and therefore called out to her mum.

Well, the hamster was OK. The bleeding was cleaned off. "The hamster can go home today," I said to the mother. "Just clean up her wound."
The mother would take back on Tuesday. That would give time and space for the young girl to study for her Monday exams. As for histopathology, it is good practice to ask the owner and record this. Histopathology adds to the cost and previously, I assume the owner would not want it done and therefore had not asked them. However, in defensive medicine to be practised nowadays in a litigious society, it is best to cover all bases and record down advices like histopathology and laboratory tests suggested.

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