Every owner dropping off a pet is required to fill out an intake form. This form will contain a phone number at which the owner can be reached while the pet is here, an explanation of why the pet is here, a lost of services requested, and other information. Despite the fact that owners are told prior to coming in that the form will need to be filled out, no one ever admits to having heard of it before. Most people just put their carrier on the floor, scribble random stuff on the form, and leave "because I'm late already and don't have time for this." Then, when I later examine the pet, it is unclear what the pet is here for. So, I call the number on the form. Turns out that's the home number, but the owner is at work. So I find the work number somewhere (or use social engineering to get it from the person at home) and call that, asking for Mr. Bob Petowner like it says on my form. Gosh, no one there by that name? I'm, do you have a Robert Petowner? No? Anyone work there who has a cat named Killer? Oh. Jim in accounting? Great. Put him on.
Then Jim in accounting rips me a new one for bothering him at work because he isn't allowed to have personal calls. Also he explains that he goes by Bob Petowner for his personal matters, and Jim Rockefeller at work, because of a licensing issue. Okaaaaaay. So I ask BobJim, as long as he's on te phone, why is Killer here today, and he says he wanted me to do something about the urination outside the litter pan. I start asking follow up questions and am immediately cut off with "if I had time to discuss it I would have come in myself. Figure it out!" and the line disconnects.
It can go two ways from here:
1. I proceed with a full diagnostic workup and when the owner comes to get the cat, he reams me out for doing it without permission.
2. Not wanting to run up the bill without permission, I do the bare minimum, and write a lengthy note explaining the next steps we can take. The owner comes to pick up the cat and reams me out for not getting it all done today.
There are many flavors of this type of visit - this is just one example.
This picture is of a dropped off patient who is obviously obese. That's a quarter on her back. She weighed 3 lbs less than her last visit, but I couldn't reach the owner to find out if the cat had been dieting or had unexplained weight loss. At pickup time the owner yelled at me for not doing any diagnostics to find out about the cause of the weight loss.... I said I tried to reach her but she didn't answer her phone & she said she's a teacher, she can't answer. Somehow I should have just known what to do without talking to her.
Quick update to this: I was thinking as I wrote this about how no one would ever try this type of thing at a physician's office - I mean, people don't drop their kids off at the pediatrician, do they? I've never seen it. But then I realized how prominently the signs at my son's allergist's office say "children under 16 MUST be accompanied by a parent to receive injections," and I realize - they probably do. So, it's not just happening here - it's happening everywhere. It must be stopped!