I think all veterinarians have a few professional moments that have tattooed themselves onto their memories. I vividly recall a specific canine patient that presented during an overnight shift when I was a lime green veterinary intern.
When I first met the patient, his body was slumped over the triage table; this rapidly progressing, 2-year-old pointer mix was in decidedly critical condition. He was cyanotic, exhibiting violent grand mal seizures, and simultaneously having hematochezia. According to his owner, he was discharged from another specialty hospital only hours earlier, and I was to become the third veterinarian to care for him within 24 hours.
At that hour of the night, I was armed with the knowledge of the medical expenses incurred earlier in the day but unfortunately little more. While my client worried over finances, I dwelled on the fact that an entire medical record of valuable information was locked within the other practice’s walls, inaccessible until the morning.
I was faced with the choice thousands of veterinarians in my position make: start from scratch (repeating diagnostics) or fly with a blindfold. I chose the former, ultimately arriving at the unexpected diagnosis of canine distemper virus in this vaccinated dog. Even more unusual, he survived.