Is this my vet's fault? Help!
July 12, 2013 7:02 PM Subscribe
I think my vet made a mistake changing the splint on my kitten's leg - how do I handle this? Details inside!
posted by sarahgrace to pets & animals (6 answers total)
About a month ago I found a stray kitten that had been run over by a mowing machine. I ended up adopting him and paying for the amputation of his rear right leg. His front left leg had a greenstick fracture and nerve damage so it has been in a splint for the past 3 weeks or so. At first, the splint consisted of a tongue depressor, quite a bit of gauze padding, and a tape wrapping and it was fine. Bulky, but no other problems. On Tuesday, I took the kitten back for his first splint change. I dropped him off, went to get some groceries, and returned to find that a different vet (one I knew, but not his original vet) had done a completely different type of splint. All she had done was basically tape a tongue depressor to his leg without any padding. I thought this was fine because he is one active kitten and it would be less of a hassle to deal with. She explained that it looked tight because the tape was compressing his fur, making the paw look larger than the leg. I paid for the service ($15 half-price charge), and headed home.
Last (Thursday) night I noticed he had some type of sticky substance on his paw and it looked a bit spread out but figured it was something he had gotten into in the floor that was stuck between his toes and he would clean it off. I decided to keep an eye on it today to make sure there wasn't a problem with the splint. Tonight it looked quite a bit worse so I completely removed the splint and found that his paw was swollen and the bottom of it (between the pads) was covered in a dried brown discharge. I immediately called the vet (the original vet who did his surgery and the first splint) and she told me to leave the splint off, soak the paw in warm saltwater, and bring him in tomorrow to look at it.
I had to leave for work so I left the kitten with my cousin who has been helping with his care. She soaked his paw and said she possibly felt something sharp in it (I saw no cuts or wounds when I was wiping it off, however). I'm functioning on the hope that something has simply cut his paw and it has gotten an infection, but I am thinking that the vet who did his splint change could also have wrapped it too tightly and not recognized it. I did some research and swelling/oozing is on the "watch for this" list on a lot of pet splint care sheets online. Assuming this is the case, what should my reaction be? Do I refuse to pay for services tomorrow? If an infection has set up because of a careless vet, the cost for me is going to easily be over $100 - $66 "sick or injured pet" visit fee, $25 for antibiotics, and I would assume another $15 or $30 for a splint change. I've already spent over $700 on this kitten and this is just another blow. The drive to the vet is also 45 minutes one way and as a college student that plus the bill is a pretty big chunk of my income.
PS - any insight on what could be wrong with his paw is appreciated! I'm terrified that if the splint was too tight it's going to go necrotic and have to be amputated as well. :(