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Dr. Drew
Dr. Drew, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16846
Experience:  Small Animal Medicine and Surgery
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I took our cat to the vet on Tuesday,he had become unwell during

Resolved Question:

I took our cat to the vet on Tuesday,he had become unwell during the night and was sick and looked miserable.He was 4year old neutered male.The vet said his bladder was full and they would sedate him and then do some tests and let me know.We did not discuss price as he said he would let me know later.I then received a telephone call about an hour later while at work to say the cat had' crashed 'during sedation and they couldn't save him.The vet said poison-Potassium?had leaked into his blood stream and caused his heart to race.Ifeel so upset,the vet never gave me any inkling the cat was so unwell,he seemed surprised as well,they now want me to pay £550.Do you think our cat received a good standard of care,I've read a bit on line and it says that whilst urinary blockage can be serious there should be safeguards in place tp prevent the poison leaking into the blood.Please can you offer some advice.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Drew replied 3 years ago.
Dr. Drew :

Hello, thanks for your question today! I am Dr. Drew, and I am a licensed veterinarian. I'll be happy to help you in any way I can.

Dr. Drew :

I am so sorry to hear about what happened to Billy.

Dr. Drew :

Let me try to explain what I think happened.

Dr. Drew :

Billy probably had a urinary obstruction.

Dr. Drew :

This is caused by accumulation of sediment (grit / sand) and mucus in the bladder, and because a male cat's urethra is tiny, it is easily plugged.

Dr. Drew :

once plugged, the urine can't leave the bladder, and the kidneys can't filter the blood adequately.

Dr. Drew :

One of the consequences of this is that the blood potassium level rises.

Dr. Drew :

There's no "poison potassium leaking into the blood" -- that's a misleading explanation.

Dr. Drew :

Billy's potassium levels were already high before he was even brought to your vet.

Dr. Drew :

However,

Dr. Drew :

the sedation put an increased strain on the cardiovascular system, above and beyond the strain caused by the high potassium levels.

Dr. Drew :

Generally, the correct course of action to take with a male cat like this, is to start intravenous fluids (with NO potassium),

Dr. Drew :

and to administer Calcium Gluconate and/or Sodium Bicarbonate in order to prevent increased strain on the heart from the elevated potassium levels.

Dr. Drew :

only THEN should sedation be attempted in order to alleviate the blockage.

Dr. Drew :

if sedation is attempted before that all occurs, then there is definitely a risk of cardiac arrest while under sedation.

Customer:

OK thank you that is helpful-so do you think I need to check with the vet exactly what they did-it sounded from what he told me that they were just going to sedate him straight away.

Customer:

What do you think about them still charging me £550?

Dr. Drew :

Yes, I do think you need to find out exactly what steps they took -

Dr. Drew :

if they did not check the blood potassium level before sedating him, or did not react appropriately after seeing it elevated, then they are at fault for sedating him.

Dr. Drew :

charging in the case of an unforseeable complication, is routine -

Dr. Drew :

when there's a fault in the medical management, then charging is a different situation, and you may be able to prove that you should not be liable.

Dr. Drew :

if they saw the high potassium level, took the correct steps, and then still had a cardiac arrest situation,

Dr. Drew :

then they are not at fault,

Customer:

Thank you,and thank you for being sympathetic-I am going to change vets-I feel I've lost confidence in them.

Dr. Drew :

I understand -- but it's best to find out exactly what they did, or did not do,

Dr. Drew :

in order to educate yourself on whether or not they practiced with reasonable competence.

Dr. Drew :

I'm sorry you have had to go through this ordeal.

Dr. Drew and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you