Case details

Veterinarian claimed surgery on dog not below standard of care





Result type

Not present

blood, vomit
In December 2008, plaintiff Margaret Workman’s 8-year-old golden retriever, Katie, underwent surgery by Stephen Klause, D.V.M., M.S., at Arcadia Small Animal Hospital to remove a mass in the dog’s liver. In order to close the space left by the removal of the mass, a portion of Katie’s stomach was repositioned during the surgery. After the surgery, Katie became very sick upon returning home and vomited up blood that “looked like coffee grounds.” Katie was subsequently brought to Animal Emergency Referral Center in Torrance, where she received treatment that included two additional surgeries. Workman sued Klause and Arcadia Small Animal Hospital. Workman alleged that Klause negligently performed the procedure on the golden retriever and that this negligence constituted medical malpractice. She also alleged that Arcadia Small Animal Hospital was vicariously liable for Klause’s actions. William Workman, who is the adult son of Mrs. Workman, was originally named as a plaintiff, but it was discovered that he was never actually an owner of the dog. As a result, Mr. Workman’s claims were voluntarily dismissed back in 2010, and he was not a party to the trial or judgment. Plaintiff’s counsel contended the surgery fell below the standard of care, as the dog’s subsequent treating surgeon, who was employed as chief surgeon at Animal Emergency Referral Center, testified that he found that a piece of gauze was left in the dog’s abdomen and that a portion of Katie’s small intestine had been nicked and repaired during Klause’s surgery. The surgeon also testified that while closing a hole after removing the mass, Klause improperly repositioned Katie’s stomach. Thus, plaintiff’s counsel contended that Klause did not fully inform Mrs. Workman about the outcome of the surgery and that Klause’s inadequate medical records made it more difficult for follow-up caretakers at the Animal Emergency Referral Center in Torrance. Klause denied plaintiffs’ counsel’s allegations. He claimed that he is a competent and experienced veterinary surgeon, and that his care of Katie met the standard. Defense counsel argued that Klause’s decision to reposition Katie’s stomach was a reasonable exercise of medical judgment because Klause knew he had to close up the hole left by the removal of the mass., Mrs. Workman claimed her golden retriever, Katie, suffered internal as a result of a piece of gauze being left in the dog’s abdomen, a portion of the dog’s small intestine being nicked and the dog’s stomach being repositioned. As a result, Katie required two additional surgeries. Katie ultimately died at 11 years old of unrelated causes. Mrs. Workman sought recovery of $43,780, inclusive of the $4,140 she paid Klause and the more than $39,600 in medical bills she received from the Animal Emergency Referral Center.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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