1 December 2022

Ethicists’ commentary on post-surgical pain control

Black stallion grazing
📷 Colourbox.com

Ethical question of the month, August 2022

Your client purchases a young large-breed stallion that must be castrated on short notice. You are unable to do the surgery, so ask the client to find another veterinarian that can accommodate their needs. The surgery is performed on-farm with injectable general anesthesia. Within an hour, the client calls in a panic. The horse is down, groaning, and flank watching. You advise that the client call the veterinarian who performed the surgery. She refuses, saying that she asked 3 times about pain control and was told that “it is better to have them sober so we can see how they are doing.” You advise giving an NSAID and an hour later the horse is up and grazing.

You contact the veterinarian to tactfully discuss interoperative, regional, and post-surgical pain control. The response is along the lines of “I’ve been doing it this way for decades...” You hope that there will be an exploration of some of the suggested options.

Recently you are contacted by a client that had the same veterinarian repair an eyelid laceration with an accompanying corneal ulcer. She is satisfied with the repair but asks you about pain control, as none was administered or dispensed beyond the local aesthetic. What do you do?

Clare Palmer, Peter Sandøe, & Dan Weary comment on this dilemma and you can read it here: Ethicists’ commentary on post-surgical pain control (pdf)