Veterinarian reprimanded in cocker spaniel case

Peter MacMahon, a British veterinarian in Hampshire, was reprimanded and warned by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) for “disgraceful” conduct. The case involved a cocker spaniel named Wilfred who had swallowed broken glass.  The RCVS found MacMahon had failed to remove the broken glass; had failed to prevent abdominal contamination; and failed to make Wilfred’s primary veterinarian aware of the contamination.  MacMahon’s competence was called into question.  MacMahon had recently returned to practice after a ten-year absence.  MacMahon agreed to take remedial training as suggested by the RCVS.

On July 15, 2009, Mrs. Sarah Stacey brought her one-year-old cocker spaniel named Wilfred to the Harbour Veterinary Hospital in Portsmouth, England. Wilfred had eaten broken glass and meat while rummaging through kitchen garbage.  Veterinarian Peter MacMahon was covering the hospital’s busy after hours emergency service.  Dr. MacMahon and his nurse were apparently unfamiliar with the facility because they had difficulty finding necessary supplies and equipment during Wilfred’s surgery.

During surgery, Dr. MacMahon did not wear sterile gloves and allowed nearly a liter of stomach contents to escape into Wilfred’s abdominal cavity.  The next morning following surgery Wilfred was brought back to the hospital very ill.  Veterinarian Kathryn Ling decided to operate on Wilfred again.  Upon opening Wilfred’s abdomen, Dr. Ling was “struck with a terrible smell of putrefaction.”  She found three tablespoons of minced meat in his abdomen.  She also found a large piece of glass still in Wilfred’s stomach.  Dr. Ling’s surgery was successful and Wilfred made a full recovery.