DO NOT TAKE FERRETS HERE. This complaint stems from events originating on July 22nd, 2011 and concludes on July 26th. Last Friday, on the beginning date, we received a call from Dr. Tom Sheriff, of the North Fork Veterinary Clinic, regarding the results of some blood tests he had forwarded to a university. He informed us that there were only two choices based on the results: to cure our pet of Adrenal Disease, he would have to perform a surgery to extract the gland; the second option would be a treatment consisting of monthly injections combined with certain medications. At this point, the doctor knew that our pet suffered from a heart condition, was advanced in age and had been struggling with Adrenal Disease for two years. So, when we asked the doctor for a full account of just how risky it would be to perform a surgery on an animal of her age, and also given her heart conditions, he failed to communicate the enormity of the risks involved. In fact, he went so far as to assure us that she was, in his words, "a good candidate for the surgery". Of course he told us there was no guarantee that the operation would be a success. But he grossly minimized the true extent of the dangers involved in this operation, given the known facts surrounding our pet's medical condition, of which he was fully aware. After our tragedy, we contacted other doctors and after they became aware of our pet's details, they all discouraged surgery because our pet only had a 4 to 10 chance of survival. THEY TOLD US THAT HAD THEY CONDUCTED THE SURGERY, THEY WOULD HAVE TOLD US OUR FERRET WAS NOT A GOOD SUBJECT FOR SURGERY AND THAT KNOWING THIS WAS FERRET MED 101.
On July 26th, we were shocked when the doctor told us our pet had died in surgery because her heart stopped; in other words, she was too old and her heart too unstable to survive this type of procedure. When we asked him on the phone why he had neglected to communicate to us the severe risks involved in her case, he dismissively told us that our pet was "the only pet of her species he had lost" and that she was a victim of statistics. At no point prior to the operation did the doctor tell us she had a one to one chance, a one to nine, nothing; if anything, he gave us the impression that she had great chances given that, in his words, she was such a "good candidate". In fact, he had used this same type of optimistic language with another one of our pets who had surgeries at his clinic but who did not have any of the heart conditions and was young. As a professional doctor with so many years of experience, how is it possible that Dr. Sheriff thought our pet could be such a good candidate when she was so advanced in age and suffering from a heart condition. We trusted in his professional judgment. We had a business relationship with Dr. Sheriff for over five years. And, therefore, when he said she was a good candidate, we trusted him. HE ENCOURAGED US TO DO THE SURGERY ON FOUR SEPARATE OCCASIONS.
What also profoundly disturbs us is that Doctor Sheriff did not contact us at our home phone number, the line he had always used to communicate with us in the past. Instead, he contacted my sister's cell phone and when we asked him to call us on our home line, he did not do so. This led us, in a time of grief, to have to look up his office number, contact the general office, speak with a technician and wait on the phone for him to pick up. He gave us the impression that he wanted to avoid contact with us and instead cop out by leaving a message on my sister's voice mail. Let me be clear: my complaint is not about the loss of my pet and is not a manifestation of my grief over her demise. Rather, it has been necessitated by what I perceive to be negligence, ignorance and unprofessional conduct stemming from an individual in whom I had placed my confidence as well as my trust. It would hurt me to see another family experience this unfortunate loss all because this doctor fails to communicate the true dangers involved in a surgery and instead rationalizes his negligence as sheer statistics, or in his words: "it never happened before".
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