What liability does a veterinarian have for not disclosing major side effects of a medication he prescribes ?

We took our 13 yr old Jack Russell Terrier in for a minor ear infection on 10-16-2012. Dr. Jeff Cook was the veterinarian that examined our dog. He prescribed Animax Ointment to put in her ears two times per day. He stated Animax Ointment is a minor antibiotic. Dr. Cook did not disclose any potential side effects of the Animax Ointment during the appointment. Over the next 5 days we noticed that our dog was not hearing any voices or noises. She was deaf. We stopped using the ointment and brought our dog back in to Dr. Cook a day later. When he examined her again, he did in fact say she had lost her hearing. At that time he mentioned that the Animax Ointment does have the potential to create deafness in dogs and that it could be permanant. I confirmed this with Dechra Veterinary products which produces Animax. This vet has been practicing 30 yrs and admitted this has happened to 2 dogs prior in his career. There are oral meds that could have been prescribed. What is our recourse ?

Asked by Member 1145209 on Dec 17th 2012 Tagged veterinarianliabilty in Other Laws & Legislation
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Unfortunately, hearing loss is listed as a possible side effect when using Animax in the ear, actually the third down on the list, quoted from the package insert: "Temporary hearing loss has been reported in conjunction with treatment of otitis with products containing corticosteroids. However, regression usually occurred following withdrawal of the drug. If hearing dysfunction is noted during the course of treatment with Animax Ointment, discontinue its use."
I feel sympathy for you and your experience, but I cannot feel that it is your vets responsibility to go over each possible side effect for every drug they prescribe, I believe that responsibility lies with the owner. ANY prescription I have ever received from a veterinarian contains the patient information sheet and I carefully read that prior to beginning the drug. If I have any questions, I ask.
This is no different than when I receive a prescription called in by my own doctor... I ALWAYS read the side effects first!

Member 641257 answered on 12/17/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer

Josie *Forever in Our Hearts*

I feel for you, it is hard to think that you are doing the right thing for a dog and then it turns out to have an unexpected consequence but I agree with Toto. It is the owners responsibility to read the side of the med and know the side effects and when to stop the med. If it has happened twice in 30 yrs then it is not a common occurrence and would not be something I would expect a vet to mention...if it happened 20+ times in 30 yrs I would expect the vet to mention it.

Think about it if a vet were to go over every side effect of every medication or vaccine they would not be able to see half as many patients as they would be explaining side effects for hours to everyone.

Josie *Forever in Our Hearts* answered on 12/20/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer