THIS IS KEY AND NEEDS TO HAPPEN AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE for every medical/service provider your pet saw before and after the event(s). Do not accept excuses or delays in getting your paperwork which are common practices if someone is trying to hide something.
By law, you are entitled to receive your companion animal’s medical records within a reasonable period of time — typically three business days. Beware of excuses as to why you can’t have them or that there will be a delay. For example, “the doctor is out of town,” “the records need to be reviewed before we give them to you,” “we don’t keep those kinds of records” and many others. Typically, professionally operated offices will not hesitate to provide you with a copy of the records. They have nothing to hide.
When you meet resistance, consider that to be a red flag (in most cases) that there is more going on than what meets the eye. Unfortunately, when a practice realizes they may be under investigation for negligence or malpractice, they will hesitate to provide records and may actually falsify records in an attempt to cover up their malpractice. Sadly, we see this too often.
If you do not already have your records, and if possible, we suggest you visit the location where the records are kept. We understand that may be difficult in light of what just happened. Perhaps a relative or friend could obtain the records for you. In any case, be very even-tempered and unemotional, to the extent you are able, when requesting and obtaining those records. You are legally entitled to them, and don’t allow yourself to be told otherwise.
Once you have the records in hand, find a quiet area (i.e., in your car) to review the records. To the best of your ability, make sure the records are complete and accurate before you leave the premises, and that they reflect information supporting your claim of negligence or malpractice. For example, if the vet told you verbally that a surgical knot came loose and caused internal bleeding but that information is not reflected in the medical records, you should advise the staff that the records are incomplete. Taking care of these issues before you leave the vet’s office will make your records review with our veterinarian move along faster and provide an accurate opinion letter to use for the legal action part of the process.
If you obtain records by email or other method (not in person), please follow the same process. Review records and contact the veterinarian’s office if you find missing information. Ask them to send your revised records so that you can continue with the rest of the process.
PAPERWORK TO OBTAIN:
- SOAPS (medical notes)
- Client communications
- Surgery reports
- Anesthesia logs
- Dental Logs
- Dental X-rays
- All blood work results (results before the incident are also helpful to determine pre-incident baseline)
- Medications prescribed
- Hospital treatment sheets
- X-rays of chest and or abdomen
- Any advanced imaging such as CT/MRI
- Board-certified specialist (Radiologist) reports
- Referral information – Did the pet go to a specialty hospital? If so, obtain all those records too.
- Any audio/video recordings or voicemail that you may have.
- Any additional documents or information such as signed permission forms, informed consent forms, discharge instructions, and client handouts.