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Doveguy 05-11-2011 06:48 PM

Who should pay the vet bill?
Our mare foaled in the early morning hours. The horse is worth about $10,000 and the foal already cost us about $4,000 so they are pretty valuable foal and mare. We call for a vet to come. The on-call vet calls back and sez they don't come out for a birth. We call back and beg and plead because the foal hadn't found the milk yet and the mare seemed distressed. She wouldn't come. When the office opened I called and asked what the policy is and they asked how everyone was doing. They said it would be a good idea to send out a vet and draw blood on the foal but they wouldn't just come out for a normal birth. (Back up 2 years, this mare gave birth and retained her placenta which the vet came out and fixed)
The vet didn't come out all day. The next morning, the mare is down and near death. The vets come running out and spend all day. She had a retained placenta and it nearly killed her. The bill to fix the mare is over $1500. should I pay this bill or is it the vets responsibility? They would have found the placenta and fixed her and there would be no big bill if they had attended us as we asked and begged. What do you all think? Am I right or what? Do vets have some sort of malpractice protection? The vet that did come out said he always wants to be there for a foaling and the top vet in the office said the same. The vet on call that morning just didn't want to get her a$$ out of bed and deal with my problem.

BlondieHorseChic 05-11-2011 07:01 PM

I understand the vet not wanting to come out at such an early/late time but when you called again (during office hours?) i would think that they would have immediately sent a vet out. Especially in this economy, i would think the moment a call came in someone would be on their way out in hopes of getting a little income. (not trying to sound better then you, but would you mind re-wording that last sentence esp one of those 3 letter words. thanks)

Spastic_Dove 05-11-2011 07:10 PM

Vets do carry malpractice insurance. You can sue them but it's a long, obnoxious process that can put you out of a lot of money. Probably not at all worth the $1500 vet bill.

Did you try to call any other veterinarians when the on call vet said they wouldn't come out?

smrobs 05-11-2011 07:11 PM

That is something that must be taken up with your own lawyer. The civil laws regarding liability can vary greatly from state to state and especially country to country (don't know where you're from). Since it is unlikely that any of us are from your area and even if some are, it's even more unlikely that they are not experts on the laws and precedents of your local court system, any advice you got here would be a shot in the dark at best.

My suggestion is to consult with a lawyer and see what they have to say.

farmpony84 05-11-2011 08:37 PM

I would find another vet for one. I don't know what the liability is on them not coming out for the baby, it's strange for me because my vet comes out for births because the first 24 hours is critical and they want to make sure the baby is getting the colestrium. (however you spell it). I geuss vets have their own policies... I know that experienced breeders will make the decision to call the vet but they really know what they are looking at....

raywonk 05-11-2011 09:24 PM

OH my gosh. I think you are going to have to pay the bill. But you could try a bluff get a lawyer to send a letter saying that you are preparying to sue if they do not ubsorbe the fee. It wont coast that much to do that. I would all so talke to the owner of the clinic and if they did not see what happend I would then black ball that vet and tell alll my local friends. We pay the over time and the farm call and what ever they want to take on cause we wake them up. They picked the job. You called cause you did not feel like it was a normal birth. If you thought it was normal you would not have called. Oh if that vet worked for my vet clinic (which I grew up with the owner) they would be fired.
Maby not for the first brush off but for the second bruch off during office hr.

PaintHorseMares 05-12-2011 06:48 AM


Originally Posted by Doveguy (Post 1030966)
The bill to fix the mare is over $1500. should I pay this bill or is it the vets responsibility? They would have found the placenta and fixed her and there would be no big bill if they had attended us as we asked and begged. What do you all think? Am I right or what? Do vets have some sort of malpractice protection? The vet that did come out said he always wants to be there for a foaling and the top vet in the office said the same. The vet on call that morning just didn't want to get her a$$ out of bed and deal with my problem.

If you're even thinking of trying to sue, a lawyer needs to be your first call, otherwise I would discuss the situation with the vet that owns the practice.

This question did make me curious since we have three mares, however, and I spent some time reading information about the vet rules/regulations/etc in NC from the state statutes and NC vet board. In my casual reading, it appears to me (and I am not a lawyer) that malpractice can only occur after the vet has accepted responsibility for treating the animal. To be safe, I suppose that if we ever decided to breed one of our mares, I would insure that we had an prior agreement with the vet to be available (or an associate) for a farm call when the foaling occurred (even though our vet answers his cell 24x7 and has never taken more than an hour to arrive regardless of the day/time).

maura 05-12-2011 07:13 AM


I think a critical question to answer is whether or not you informed the vet or the vet's office that the mare had a retained placenta. I would think 4 hours after the birth is plenty of time to allow for the mare to pass the placenta, but it's been a while since I foaled out a mare, so I'll defer to others on that one.

Also, I think you have to subtract out whatever a standard foaling call would cost, including standard, non-emergency treatment for the retained placenta, because you would have been paying for these regardless of when the vet decided to come out.

I'm also curious as to what part of the country you're in - in my area, vet attended foalings are common, and a vet visit the morning after to check over the mare and foal, pull blood for an IGG, etc. is absolutely routine. We were also instructed to save the placenta in uncomplicated foalings so the vet could double check if it was completely intact of if there was a retained piece during the morning after check.

Doveguy 05-12-2011 08:05 AM

I am in N. Virginia. I have known this vet office for years and have respect for lead vet's competence. It was the on call vet who refused to attend and the front office women who said it wasn't necessary to attend us. It is my opinion that the office staff made the error of not sending out a vet. I consider it an error of omission. They didn't do something to cause the problem but the problem happened as a result of them not attending. They know we rely on them and we are happy to pay for their expertise. Our vets are busy and have to be careful to not just waste time on calls where they are not really needed. The problem is they decided I didn't need them when I really did need them. Then when the did finally come, there was damage because they didn't come when I called them to come. I am happy to pay for the exams and the placenta levage and what they did that they would have done if they had come out in a timely manner but all the crisis management and emergency work was a direct result of them not attending on time and they should pay for that. I will probably send a letter to the lead vet and ask for a corrected bill. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

wyominggrandma 05-12-2011 08:54 AM

Working for a two vet office here in Wyoming, they rotate their call nights so someone is on call 24/7. However, I realize in some areas the after hour emergency vets are not the normal one on call. Was this vet one of the normal vets from the office?
I doubt you can sue for something that wasn't done in the beginning and then cost more later on. Because I will assume the vet that did not take the call will say" the client did not inform me of a pre exhisting issue of a retained placenta when she placed the call and did not say it was an emergency. I felt the check up could wait until non emergency hours in the morning and I was never informed she called again that morning for a checkup".
If you did not inform the on call vet that the mare did have issues, then the vet assumed it was a normal birth and all was okay. Now, sounds as if the receptionist decided on her own that the call was not important the next morning, and sounds as if she made the decision to not tell the vet you called.
My advice is this: go into the veterinary clinic and ask to speak to the main vet. Or make an appointment to talk to him. Then explain the situation, but be honest with everything you said, and be sure to say you did not explain about the previous retained placenta, but still assumed the on call vet would come out as you asked.(after all they get paid emergency prices for after hour calls and I am sure the main practice owner would like the income)Then explain you called the next morning and the receptionist(name) did not feel it was necessary for the vet to come out right then and although you waited all day, a vet never came. (which tells me the receptionist never gave the request to any of the vets)Explain by the time the next morning rolls around the mare is near death and only then does a vet come out.
If you talk to the main owner, I imagine he/she will do a reduction in the bill to make you happy and to keep you a client since it seems the practice failed your mare and you.
If your mare had died, then yes you could have filed a malpractice suit, but again the first issue brought up would be that you did not say the mare had a history of retained placenta when you first called. You made the first mistake by not informing the vet about the placenta, the vet was lazy and did not want to come out during the night, the receptionist failed the next day it seems and then finally they did come out. I bet your main vet will reduce the amount owed. Just be calm and explain how you feel. good luck

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