Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Would It Take?

My farrier was out today to reset Lilly and trim AJ. He was surprised to see me icing Lilly's leg and asked what was going on with her this time.

I filled him in on the entire story and told him the plan from this point forward. He asked how pissed I was about it and I told him I wasn't too upset about the original 'misdiagnosis', but I was pretty upset about what it has led to now.

Had we known it was the ICL all along, we might be in a better place today and I might not be preparing myself to spend close to $1200 on her tendon ligament again. I think he was more upset than I am.

So as it goes in the horse world, there is plenty of gossip to be had. My farrier works closely with all of the vets at the practice I use and he was telling me a few months ago about a horse my vet was treating. This horse came up in conversation because my farrier had a large cut on his hand that this horse had given him. He was being treated for a bone chip in his knee. As it turns out, the diagnosis was incorrect and it was actually a soft tissue injury, and the horse has since been euthanized. My farrier said the horse's owner is absolutely beside herself.

Thank God Lilly's issue isn't life threatening, but it is a big deal because how we treat it can mean the difference between a sound, usable horse and another pasture ornament. I can't afford a third horse, so Lilly is all I've got.

There are 4 vets at the practice I use, and I've now used all 4 of them. One of the vets is really expensive and not really for the 'backyard horse owner', then there's the vet who is my usual vet for routine things, Dr Elaine who is Lilly's tendon ligament vet, and then the vet that saw Lilly on cellulitis day. I've been sticking with Dr Elaine because of her familiarity with Lilly's ultrasounds and progress relating to her tendon ligament, but I'm wondering if I should use one vet exclusively (and one that hasn't misdiagnosed my horse) or if I should look outside the practice for a fresh face.

There is another local veterinary practice that I have used in the past. I used them before moving to the barn I was at 2 barns ago. The new barn used the practice I use now so I just switched to make it easy. I could very easily go back to them.

I understand vets can make mistakes the same as doctors can, but what would it take for you to switch vets? Would it need to be something 'bigger' than what I'm dealing with, or would you only consider it if your vet was making multiple mistakes?


  1. I've been incredibly lucky in my vet. I feel for you, because I can't imagine not having complete confidence in my vet. I guess if I didn't feel confident, I'd look elsewhere. The vet is one of the most important people in your horse's life.

    The care is more important than the money, but do you think they would be open to refunding some of your money?

  2. Confidence is a big thing... especially considering all the veterinary work I've had done here lately.

    My vet has already credited my account $100 for the ultrasound I received in August because she felt it didn't benefit me... that's an understatement. As my farrier suggested, perhaps I should get a deeper discount, like "buy 2 shock wave therapies, get 1 free".

    I am not a good negotiator, nor do I like conflict, but I do feel she is more responsible for the current situation than she's admitting. Does that mean I can talk her into a discount on the therapy? I'm not sure...

  3. I think you HAVE TO trust your vet. No matter what the reason, if you don't have that trust you will always be unsettled. Do you feel 100% confident in that vet now? If not, is there anything she could do to regain it? If not, then don't see her again. If you think you can put this behind you then work on doing that. It's your horse and your money and you NEED to feel confident that the person is doing their best work. Yes people make mistakes and this may be the worst/only mistake she ever makes, but the real key is whether or not you trust her.

    I said the same thing to a friend recently who was telling me about all the crap her daughter's trainer was pulling with them. I asked if she trusted the trainer and she said no. I asked if there was anything the trainer could do to regain that trust and she said no. I told her the only thing to do was to get another trainer.

  4. I want to trust her, and I have trusted her up to this point, but I'm thinking maybe I should trust but verify... Ask more questions, be more demanding, and not just place my total and complete trust in her. Maybe I should do that no matter what vet I have.

    Her mistake wasn't a terrible one, I'm just upset that it contributed to the situation we're in now.

    I feel partly responsible, though, for not sticking with her as Lilly's only vet (at least in dealing with her leg issues). Had I been more patient and waited until she was available, things might be different.

    She's trying to make it right and I think I can move past this but I might always have a nagging doubt in the back of my mind...

  5. Yes, what you're going through with Lily's misdiagnosis would be enough for me to leave.

    I left my vet after she said my mare had stone bruising, nothing more. I knew in my gut it was more, asked for a second opinion from my "back up" vet...who correctly diagnosed Jetta within 1 minute of seeing her move. Extremely thorough xrays confirmed it. Now, I had lost a lot of confidence is said vet, so I was already "hanging by a thread" when she said it was stone bruising and no xrays were necessary. Yea, not so much. Severe joint degenerative disease is more like it.

    Sure, you can feel like you had something to do with the diagnosis, but the bottom line is that you are not the vet. We pay these people who went to school for a long time that *should* be able to know more than we do.

    If this were me in your situation, I would contact the other vet practice as a "second opinion" without any background and see what they say. If they nail the diagnosis, then you have your answer. Just my 2 cents though. Good luck! I hate lameness!

  6. Thanks for your input, Spotteddrafter. I am seriously considering the second opinion just to see what they have to say. I'll probably get it done before I spend the money on shock wave therapy.