Jan. 14 Very sad update from Ms. Tynes – My worst fear came true today. I prayed it wouldn’t come to this, but I had to euthanize my precious Hotstuff today. I’ve seen him grow confused, pace around, bark, whine, howl, and simply not know what to do with himself. He had become inconsolable. His sunset years have been cut short by someone who made a careless mistake and who is still allowed to work at Cornell University. I will never understand why this happened, but I loved Hotstuff too much to even express in words. He did not deserve to have the story end this way. He was such a wonderful dog, and I appreciate everyone’s well wishes and advice. I just couldn’t let this continue.
A petition has been started to hold animal veterinary surgeons to the same standard as human surgeons. Please click HERE to sign. Thank you.
Original article began here:
You expect that when you bring your pet to a veterinarian, especially one in a teaching hospital, that they’ll receive the best care possible. The life of your animal is in their hands. And you would think that a teaching hospital would provide cutting edge care. After all, they’re training other potential veterinarians every single day. They read the journals, they’re up on the most recent procedures and tests. They’re the best equipped to help your pet.
But here’s a little known fact. These teachers are not always licensed to operate in the states in which they are teaching. Recently in Louisiana, at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, which has been an accredited institution since 1977, meeting all the essential requirements for an acceptable college or school as established by the AVMA COE, a tragedy occurred.
Cassandra Tynes brought her 13-year-old weimaraner named Hotstuff to LSU on Dec. 19 to have his diseased right eye removed. She adopted him from Weimaraner Rescue of the South on Mother’s Day 2009 when he was 8 years old. Now Hotstuff is nearly deaf, just able to hear some sounds in one ear. He had good vision in one eye, which he relied on to get around; his other eye was causing him some anguish. So Ms. Tynes, who had brought many dogs to LSU in the past for prior surgeries and veterinary care, took Hotstuff in for his surgery.
The surgery was done by Dr. Filipe Espinheira Gomes, an board certified ophthalmologist, accredited by the American College of Veterinary Opthalmologists since 2013. His bio states that after graduation from University in Portugal, he received a scholarship to the vet school in Barcelona, Spain. This was followed by general practitioner work in Portugal, visiting scholar in Ohio State, internships in Manchester and VA-MD and a Surgical fellowship at Michigan State University. He was awarded a residency at the University of Wisconsin., and was currently employed at LSU as an assistant professor in comparative ophthalmology. That’s a very extensive background, on paper. Ms. Tynes did not know all of that when she signed over Hotstuff to the surgical knife of Dr. Gomes. She just trusted the University and their recommendation.
Hotstuff was prepped for surgery, which included having the area shaved down by the OR tech. You can see in the photos that it is obvious which eye was to be operated on. It’s exactly the same as when a person is brought into the OR and some sort of designation is written on the part that is due for surgery. It’s to make sure mistakes don’t happen.
When Ms. Tynes went back to the hospital to pick up Hotstuff, she couldn’t believe what the doctor was telling her. Dr. Gomes said that he had removed Hotstuff’s only good eye by mistake.
Yes. You’re reading that correctly.
Now her almost totally deaf weimaraner was also blind. She chose to have the diseased eye removed as well, since it was causing him distress and he could never use it again in any case. She had brought in a sweet senior dog that was able to get around quite well, and was now bringing home a permanently blind, almost totally deaf dog, to see what chance he had of recuperating from this tragedy. Please imagine for a moment that happened to you; think about how confused Hotstuff must be. Why can’t he see anything anymore? What was going on? What did he do wrong?
Dr. Gomes discharge summary contained one sentence acknowledging the error. He is taking responsibility for the mistake. He was the surgeon in charge. But additional comments he made in emails can only make you cringe in disbelief. “The dog had short hair, I couldn’t tell which was the eye to be removed.” “You don’t know what kind of vision he had in his good eye before the surgery”. His final explanation was that because of Hotstuff’s prior episode of respiratory arrest “he was in a hurry so that he wouldn’t be under anesthesia so long.”
When Ms. Tynes asked Dr. Gomes what help he recommended to assist Hotstuff, his reply was “I am not familiar with any good resources to train deaf and blind dogs”.
Dr. Gomes, in his Dec. 25 email between himself and Ms. Tynes, stated:
‘I am very glad that he is moving around a bit more. I am really hoping that he does well and he manages to continue to enjoy life as before…. Once again, I am really sorry about all this. Filipe’
In a later email, on Dec. 28, he was more expressive in his apologies:
‘I think about it every day. In all the years that I have been a veterinarian, I have never had something like this happen. I wish I could go back in time and fix my terrible mistake, but unfortunately, that is not possible. To prevent this from ever happening again, I am going to introduce a protocol in my operating theater adapted from wrong-site surgery protocols in human medicine.’
Yes, he now wants to adopt the policy that they use to treat humans prior to surgery; marking the correct site. But why was this not surgical policy in the past even with veterinarian?
Though his LinkedIn profile has Dr. Gomes still on staff at LSU as an Assistant Professor-Veterinary Ophthalmology, Ms. Tynes was informed by LSU that, in fact, he has relocated and is currently at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in NY. A search in their staff listing does show an F. Espinheira, and below you can read that the University has confirmed his new status, in the apologetic email sent by them to Ms. Tynes:
‘We are very sorry to hear about your dog having the wrong eye removed earlier this month at a teaching hospital at another veterinary school . We understand how upsetting this is to you and difficult for Hotstuff to adjust to losing his eyesight. We wish you well in supporting his recovery. You are correct that the ophthalmologist involved has been offered a position in the Department of Clinical Sciences here at Cornell University. We are committed to providing the best patient care and client service possible in our veterinary hospital and appreciate your reaching out to us. We wish the best for Hotstuff and have all of you in our thoughts.’
Cornell did not return phone calls with any comment as to their stand on the incident. Ms. Tynes wants to be clear that she hold no grievance against LSU. She says they are being extra accommodating in the wake of the tragedy.
‘we have been long time clients with multiple dogs and they have always been good to us. I spoke to the director of the LSU Animal Hospital today and he was very apologetic and is more than willing to cover expenses to help Hotstuff get acclimated to his newly blind life.’
She does place the blame fully on Dr. Gomes and is pursuing legal action against him for the atrocity. Right now, the problem she is coming up against is that he was not licensed to operate at that facility, and yet he performed the operation. Her lawyers are currently pursuing a case against the doctor.
Hotstuff relied so much on his good eye that Ms. Tynes has found his hearing deficits are even more apparent now since the removal of his remaining eye. She tried dog whistles to get his attention, but that only alerts her other dogs. Hotstuff does not respond. She is experimenting with a cowbell, since it has a lower tone, to let him know where she is and to get his attention.
Every day it’s a new test for them both. On Jan. 8, he wagged his tail. It sounds very small to you and I. But to Ms. Tynes, it brought tears to her eyes.
On Jan. 11, he was able to navigate the house and find her in another room. She was thrilled at that big step. Today, Jan. 12, they’re working on body language training.
She’s found a board certified behaviorist who can consult with her on the phone, since, obviously, she does not want to make Hotstuff travel anywhere. His name is Kenneth Martin and he’s in Texas with Veterinary Behavior Consultations. Hotstuff is on anti-anxiety medication to ease his fears. He gets daily massages to prevent his muscles from atrophying since he can no longer walk around the neighborhood.
Ms. Tynes wants people to know what happened to Hotstuff, and to learn from his case. You must take responsibility for examining the records of the people who have the lives of your pets in their hands. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are the only chance they have of ensuring they live a pain-free, happy life. She created a Facebook page to allow us to follow Hotstuff in his journey through a strange foreign land, with only his nose and his heart to guide him.
You can follow the Orlando Pet Rescue Examiner here or on Facebook where you can visit and “like” my page and discuss the animal issues that concern you the most.