The following complaint came to the VCMS at a point where both the owner and practice had tried hard to resolve their differences but had become entrenched.
The facts behind the complaint were relatively straight-forward – the owner’s two dogs had been scheduled to be spayed and castrated on the same day. The female was given two doses of anaesthetic by mistake, and during the neutering the male dog also had to have a corrective operation after internal bleeding, as the suture had moved or slipped during recovery.
Despite there being no long-term effects for either dog, the owner was very distressed.
Although the owner felt that he had not suffered financial loss, he and his wife were deeply distressed at the events and they were looking for compensation of approximately £10,000.
The practice waived the fees for both procedures, along with the fees for another dog who had received treatment the same day and all went well. The practice undertook a full investigation to identify whether human error had occurred in terms of the double anaesthetic, and put measures in place to prevent this happening in the future.
As the aviation industry has advocated year after year; report and learn! New protocols were put in place to ensure that paperwork remains with every patient ad kennels are labelled. Collars are checked and paperwork updated to confirm this before medicines are administered.
During mediation, the VCMS concentrated on the positive outcomes as a result of the complaint.
The ‘reflect and resolve’ actions undertaken by the practice were incredibly important in minimising future risk. Mediation also managed the owner’s expectations on his rights in law regarding compensation for distress and inconvenience. The practice remained firm in its position that a large financial settlement was inappropriate and unrealistic.
Through mediation the owner finally accepted a £100 credit to the veterinary account – in his feedback on the VCMS he felt his concerns had been understood, the process was productive and he would recommend the VCMS.
The practice was also pleased to have used mediation to help the owner understand that they had recognised the seriousness of his complaint, and the impact on him and his family.
The process allowed the emotions to be dealt with and a practical and proportionate outcome to be achieved.