| Response From Chief Veterinarian Suzan Murray About Changes to Veterinary Notes |
"Medarks, the name of the system, was not designed as a legal document, but rather as a user-friendly way of maintaining and sharing important information. As such, one of the most facile modules is the 'clinical notes' section, which prompts the user to 'Add/Edit clinical notes.' Clinical notes on all animals - particularly those originally written by a student, those worked on by multiple veterinarians, those regarding animals that are scheduled to be shipped out to another institution, or those records that would be read by an outside institution -- are routinely edited for content, style, accuracy, and interpretation. Missing information is added days, weeks, months and sometimes even years after the original date of entry -- depending upon when the missing information was noted. It is our understanding that this is true at some other zoos as well.
"This is true not only of the department of animal health, but also for the department of pathology, which reviews and edits all records before releasing them to other zoos or institutions.
"Although we try to be thorough and complete, it is simply not possible for us to document every conversation and every observation - instead, an attempt is made to document, update, and edit those of the greatest medical importance."
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
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_____Audio_____ Lucy H. Spelman talks about the process of writing animal care reports.
Spelman discusses writing and changing veterinarian reports.
Spelman discusses the death of Lionel the giraffe, after an attempt to anesthetize the animal.
Spelman talks about improving the zoo's record keeping.
_____Graphics_____ Changed Veterinary Records
Inside the Zoo Deaths
_____Documents_____ Donald K. Nichols's letter to the National Science Academy.
Lucy H. Spelman's response.
Ryma the Giraffe
Email about the cause of death.
Follow-up email about the cause of death.
Tana the Lion
Veterinary notes, printed on Oct. 21, 2002.
Changed veterinary notes, printed on Sept. 26, 2003.
Phoenix the Bobcat
Veterinary notes, printed on Nov. 26, 2002.
Changed veterinary notes, printed on Oct. 9, 2003.
Veterinary notes, printed on Nov. 29, 2002.
Changed veterinary notes, printed on Oct. 22, 2003.
Pensi the Orangutan
Sybil the Macaque
Response from chief veterinarian Suzan Murray about changes to veterinary notes.
The National Zoo Communications Plan detailing how to handle media coverage of deaths at the zoo.
_____Live Discussions_____ Post staff writers James Grimaldi, Karlyn Barker and D'Vera Cohn discussed their series on the National Zoo.
General curator of the National Zoo William Xanten discussed the zoo and The Post series.
Suzan Murray, head veterinarian at the National Zoo, will be online at 2 p.m. ET Thursday to discuss The Post investigative series and animal care and medical treatment at the institution.