Saturday, January 14, 2012

Guest Post: VBB Student Edition!

We received the following submission for anonymous guest posting from a current student of veterinary medicine. Thank you, young grasshopper.

No Brainer
Set the scene:  12:30 pm on emergency; shift should end at 11:00 pm
Characters:  One exhausted senior vet student, several busy emergency/critical care technicians, one exhausted intern… and the smartest client in the world!
Phone call on the Emergency/Urgent info line: 
Client: “Hi, I’m calling to see if I should bring my dog in right away or if we can wait a few days to see our normal vet”
Student (stifling a yawn):  “Can you tell me a bit about your dog and what your worried about?”
Client:  “Well, there a few things I am a little worried about; she has blood in her eyes, she can’t see, she is coughing up white mucous, she is having trouble breathing, she can’t walk, she hasn’t eaten in two weeks *deep breath She won’t pee and I haven’t seen her poo for 5 days, her breath smells bad and she isn’t responding to attention…  Also she is kinda old…
Student: (mouth open, eyes wide): .…..
Client: “well, do you think her symptoms are serious enough I should think about bringing her in?” (hint of frustration in her tone)
Student: “I highly recommend bringing her in right away!  It sounds like she is critical condition, can you be here soon?”
Client:  “Weeeeelllll… how much does it cost?”
Student: “ the exam fee is blah blah and any testing will be additional”
Client: “hmmmm I think I will wait until I can make an appointment with my regular veterinarian”
Student: (face-palm)

What was the point of the conversation you ask?  I’ve been trying to figure that out since I talked to this woman! If you or a loved human had these symptoms (even one of the above symptoms) you would be on the way to the hospital, why is there even a question that an examination by a veterinarian is warranted?  Moral of the story, don’t call the nearest veterinary teaching hospital (or emergency hospital) at night around bedtime to ask if symptoms are severe enough to be seen.  If your pet has a symptom you would worry about for yourself, take it to the doctor for love of all that is holy (and for F’s sake)!!

          -sadly the above conversation did happen as related here-


  1. HAHA! It takes all kinds! Another one for the books...

  2. BTDT more than once. sigh.

    Saw a cartoon some years ago that showed a guy holding his dog on the exam table & he's telling the DVM this......

    If he's sicker than $10, forget it ! ( This was when the OV/Ex was about $10. )

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Oh, your 4 month old g. shep puppy who has been vomiting and having diarrhea for 7 days is now flat out on her side and non-responsive? Yeah I think you should bring her in immediately. Like, put her in the car before we get off the phone and start driving. Oh, what's that? You don't even have the emergency fee? Great, good thing you decided to get a puppy, and a shepherd at that. He never brought her in. :(

  5. Dear Student, this will be a recurring theme in your career. These people also have some sort of defect that makes them wait until 10 minutes before closing to contact you with their emergency. They are always pissed off if you refer them to an EC, because you are their regular vet. And by regular vet, you saw them for a nail trim six years ago. Sorry.

  6. They just want you to validate their decision to put treatment off for another day or two. You'll soon learn to enjoy not enabling them.

  7. Discussions are starting whether or not not-calling the autorities (RSPCA, police) when you have had a conversation with an owner like this would constitute as animal cruelty as well...

  8. Unfortuately, my vet doesn't do emergency hours. I had my last emergency on a heated blanket, in a cardboard box, propped upright by the bed, so I could check on her at regular intervals throughout the night. The following morning, I walked down to the vet (a 30 min walk) with her in my arms (softer ride than in the box) so the vet could see her. I paid for the bill without a quibble. The vet was great - she really cared about the patient. I wanted to hug her when she suggested pain killers. A simple luxury such as pain relief can go a long way, yet many people don't bother. WHY?

    'She' is a chicken - possibly the most expensive chicken in the world, but she enjoys watching JAG from a lap. What can I say? Had I found a human in a crumpled, bloody heap, with its skull on show, I may have left it. You know... It's JUST a human, after all. It'll fix itself.