Wednesday, August 18, 2010

There Is No EMTALA for Pets

We could have lost our blog mascot. The Observer kitty aka BoyCat had a urethral obstruction. To put it crudely, he couldn't pee.

Of course, this happened after hours so we had to go to the Emergency Vet. Now, unlike a human hospital, vet ERs will do a wallet biopsy before treatment. BoyCat's mom--that's me--was found wanting, both in current funds and credit. So we could only do a stopgap measure--remove the urine that was in his bladder at that time. The Vet ER does no financing or payment plans. My vet will. However, I would not be able to take BoyCat to the vet until 12-1300ish, as I had work.

Well, work wrapped up a little early, with the outcome that I was at the vet's one hour before I thought I would be, and it was a good thing because BoyCat was starting to look like a sick cat.

The good news is that the vet agreed to remove the obstruction and work on BoyCat and we would make arrangements for payment. Good thing, because his little bladder was super full. His blood work was OK and it looks like the stinker will live to see another day.

I really disliked the way I had been treated at the Vet ER, which was disappointed, because I had been there before and had liked the care. But I had more money then. This time, they were perfectly willing to not treat my cat--urinary obstruction is life threatening in cats--and let him die. It seemed that way, a lot. I was very blunt with them, and quite clearly indicated they were giving me the opportunity to have to choose to euthanize BoyCat, or take him home and watch him suffer. I will admit that I was not at my best--sometimes rather sarcastic and snarky--but I thought they were awfully heartless.

Now I understand that they run a business, yada yada...but until the doctor talked about buying time so that my cat could be seen by my regular vet, and going into problem solving mode, instead of "You have no money" mode, it seemed very very cold and totally concentrated on money, not compassion or caring.

As much as we bust on EMTALA at times--and in some ways, it is a very bad law--to know that an ER cannot do this to a human with a life threatening condition is a reassuring thing.

Last time I saw BoyCat, he was sedated and sleeping. I got a report later that he was starting to sit up and be more alert. He may have been wearing a Cone of Shame to protect his IV and urinary catheter.

This was not a good experience.

Photo of his handsomeness, by the Observer, with the BB.


peedee said...

I'm glad BoyCat is going to be ok. And I'm glad that you fussed enough for him, that the ER doc did the right thing by offering options.

I guess I really should talk to my vets office about payment plans if something should go wrong with one of the boys. Jake is starting to have minor issues due to age and Remi has a siezure dissorder.

Funds are low these days around here too. Prepared for the inevitable big bill is never a bad thing.

Thanks for making me think about something I've been avoiding thinking about.

Radioman KC said...

We certainly need health insurance for pets. Our two Beagles were attacked on separate events by two neighbhood pit bulls. First dogbill, $1200. Still the renter didn't get rid of them so they got out came for a return visit and got out other Beagle who ran outside to get jumped in our yard. $7000. Theyre gone now and we have a $4k fense and the guys been found guilty of animal abuse and is supposed to pay or do two years. He's gaming the system tho. Your basic deadbeat with too many kids and no common sense.

Our dogs are healthy now and we love them but that was a lot of money and for the one dog, a long recovery. There's a great ICU out in JOCO, south of 435 and they did wonders. Expensive wonders. Our vet rode in our car to keep Lucy stable until we got there. We so worried we'd made a mistake by not putting her down after what she went trough.

But I'm starting to think we're going to eat most of the cost. Ya can't sue and get money out of trailer trash! And for some reason they always own pit bulls.

Speaking of pets, we have 5 ferel cats born under our deck which we feed. I got them all spayed and neutered, and shots for just $40 each at a place off of I-35 and Antioch. Google "Kansas City Ferel" for their location.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Since my BoyCat just now re-grew his stomach fur after eating twenty hair ties, a rubber band, and the cellophane top of a T.V. dinner, I know how hard this is!

I would have been snarky too. I hate that kind of treatment. As it was, I did have to make a payment plan at my vet. They take your credit card number and bill it--they don't trust you to come back.

But anyway, poor poor BoyCat and poor poor Mama You! I hope he gets better quickly and no more trouble.

And good luck with the Cone--I had GirlCat in the bathroom for 48 hours until I could trust BoyCat enough to take it off. He was so, so, miserable.

Best wishes to the Boy!
Ann T.

Bob G. said...

I know ALL about FUS (now. I lost a feline friend years ago, on Thanksgiving day...didn't know about the UofP vet hospital (someone told me later they were open), but I definitely learned from the experience.
Sometimes,we're taught by adversity.

Sounds like you had some relatives of my "neighbors"...

Had a situation where some local's pit bull came up to my fence and started barking it's head the hell off...and I love damn near ANY animal.
He wouldn't shut up but instead got nastier, so I whipped out the airsoft pistol on my hip and nailed him once on the noggin...he took off like he was shot (which he was)...never came back.

Sometimes, the FIRST response is the best.

Glad boycat is doing OK.
(cone of


Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I know you're busy working and caregiving at home too. So just when you get a minute, let us know how it's going. Just checking back!

Take care my lady,
Ann T.

the observer said...

To everyone:
Thank you for the support and stories. There is a new post up with updates. Radioman, I am going to check into insurance--at least to see the rates and offerings.

I still haven't recovered from the short sleep and odd meals this caused!

A grateful Observer