Wednesday, February 6, 2008

An observation

I had a call the other night that troubled me, saddened me and irritated me in equal measure.

I randomly woke up at 2:30am, thinking my phone had gone off though it hadn't. Now fully awake at this absurd hour, I did some reading in an effort to get back to sleep. Around 3:00am, my phone did go off and I was somewhat releaved. I was up anyway, so might as well take a call.

The woman at the other end of the line had a cat that had eaten some plastic wrap of some sort, coughed most of it up but still seemed to be having breathing problems. Definitely sounded like something that should be seen. Following protocol, I informed her of the emergency fee and additional possible fees such as radiographs, sedation, etc. Then I also mentioned that, if the cat had aspirated a piece of plastic down into its trachea, I didn't have the instrument (ie endoscope) that would likely be needed to retrieve it.

Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say. The lady blew up with,"You mean to tell me that I could spend $200 and she may die? Why do you call yourself an emergency clinic if you can't do anything? Thanks for nothing you ."

Now, a variety of emotions have gone through me as I think on what she said (and I've likely spent more time thinking about it than it deserves, but what do you do?). I am convinced that most of the lady's ire was not directed at me, personally, but rather at her helpless situation with her beloved pet in distress. That I can identify with. But to blow up because I tell her the truth? She unloads on me because we don't have a piece of equipment that I likely would not have needed, but may have had some of the plastic gone far down her trachea?

And, for the record, we are not an emergency clinic anyway, per se. An emergency veterinary clinic implies that there are vets +techs present at the clinic 24/7 to see whatever walks in the door. We are a vet clinic that provides emergency service in the form of the vet on call meeting the client at the clinic with the ailing pet.

Ah well...I'll make sure I keep telling people that I may not be able to help their pet, because that is the absolute truth no matter the situation, especially in an emergency. For people to have the expectation that just because they bring their animal in all will be well is one I have already encountered several times.

Typically, the irate lady hung up before I could explain any of this. Hopefully her cat is doing all right. Needless to say, it was quite a while longer until I could get back to sleep.

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