Patchogue Animal Hospital sued for medical negligence and malpractice
A Long Island veterinary hospital allegedly used untrained receptionists to perform risky medical procedures on animals, killing a beloved dog who only needed treatment for an ear infection, a new lawsuit alleges .
William Watkins, 68, brought his 8-year-old blue-nosed terrier, Taro, to Patchogue Animal Hospital in June 2020 and was instructed to give him a cocktail of tranquilizers before his next visit so the vet could better examine the ears of the puppy, the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Suffolk County Supreme Court states.
Watkins was uncomfortable with the high doses of gabapentin and trazodone prescribed by hospital veterinarian Dr. Eva Armfield, but the animal specialist insisted it was necessary and he agreed, the Brookhaven resident told the Post in an interview.
During a follow-up visit about two months later for a full medical examination, Taro was able to enter the clinic alone, but an hour later her “unconscious and paralyzed body” was carried out by two apparent receptionists getting pass for veterinary technicians. , says the lawsuit.
Watkins could tell something was wrong with Taro, a typically friendly and strong pit bull who had no known health issues beyond the ear infection, and he called Armfield using the parking three times, but she refused to come out and examine the dog, court records say.
“Just take her home, she’ll be fine, let the meds wear off and call me in the morning,” Armfield reportedly told Watkins, he said.
“Well, by morning Taro was dead.”
The lawsuit claims that Taro was given even more tranquilizers during the visit after taking 1,200mg of gabapentin and 600mg of trazodone, which worsened a pre-existing heart condition that Armfield did not diagnose and led to death of the dog, according to the lawsuit.
A veterinarian unrelated to the incident reviewed Taro’s medical records at Watkins’ request and determined that “Taro was a victim of gross medical negligence and malpractice.”
“Dr. Eva Armfield of Patchogue Animal Hospital used a medically inappropriate high dose combination sedative…and failed to recognize and properly assess Taro on multiple occasions following the severe reaction to the combination sedatives,” wrote Dr. Michael Dym in the report, which is included in the trial as an exhibit.
“Because of these delays in timely diagnosis and treatment, Taro not only suffered needlessly, but lost his chance during emergency stabilization attempts that could have saved his life.”
At the time of Taro’s death, Armfield was using receptionists to perform the duties of veterinary technicians, including monitoring vital signs while an animal is in surgery, performing x-rays, monitoring anesthesia and drug administration, according to the trial.
The workers, who also had to mow Armfield’s lawn and babysit his children, weren’t trained to perform such crucial tasks and didn’t have credentials from a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which is required by law, the lawsuit claims.
Watkins said he and his wife were heartbroken by Taro’s preventable death and wanted Armfield to be held accountable.
“We both collapsed to the ground when we heard the news, it was the worst day of our lives,” Watkins told the Post. “Taro taught me more about love than anyone ever has and I mourn Taro more than I have mourned any of my family, parents or friends.”
“We just couldn’t believe it, it just didn’t make sense. It’s an ear infection and now she’s dead? It’s like, how is this possible?
Watkins attorney Susan Chana Lask said Armfield had “reached an all-time high”.
“Dr. Armfield was too cheap to pay licensed vet techs as required by law, causing pets to suffer and die and destroy their owner’s life while she billed them for her illegal operation,” Lask said. in a press release.
“It should be closed.”
Armfield did not return a request for comment.