Monday, November 28, 2011

Trauma drama

5am, Thanksgiving morning.

A phone call comes through from a client.  "Two of my dogs were shot!  We're on the way!" She's too upset to give us any more details about their condition.

Immediately, I wonder -- how in the heck do not one but TWO of your pets get shot?

My technician and I start preparing for arrival of two potentially serious, potentially life-threatening injuries.  Gunshots can result in any bad trauma you can think of; bleeding, penetrated bowels, ruptured bladder, spinal paralysis, pneumothorax, instant death, infection....

The first pet arrives and walks into the clinic under his own power, which is a surprise. My tech receives permission for initial treatment and diagnostics.  He has two entry wounds on one side of his chest, but no exit wounds.  He is experiencing mild shock, and is exceptionally painful, but for a gunshot wound, appears moderately stable.

We start pain medications, IV fluids, oxygen, and antibiotics.  I walk up to the lobby to speak with the client who is understandably hysterical.  Hysterical, however, slows down my ability to do my job.

"Hi, I'm ERdoc.  Your pet is in fair condition, and is already receiving pain medicine, oxygen and IV fluids."


"Ma'am, I understand you're upset, this is a very scary situation.  You have to realize that we're working as fast as we can, and if you just take a deep breath and calm down a bit, we'll be able to help you more quickly.  Now is there any major medical history I should know about ?  How did this happen?"

The client calms a bit, and I get a history.  The pets had escaped out the front door, and it was suspected that a neighbor shot them for being on their property.  Cruel, but actually not illegal since the dogs were at large.

The second dog arrives and actually looks better than the first.  He has a thru and thru gunshot wound so close to his spine that it's frightening.

Amazingly, both patients recovered well and were sent home with their (very) thankful families the next day.

Despite the high stress, extreme potential for disaster, and emotionally charged situation, we were able to provide happy outcomes for both of these patients!


  1. I would like you to keep up the good work.You know how to make your post understandable for most of the people.I will definitely share it with others.Thanks for sharing.


  2. Thanks Dr. Rodrick! I intend to continue - I just need to catch up on life and sleep after work, and sometimes that doesn't leave much time left for the blog :) I'm getting back to it today! Thanks for your kind words!