Monday, January 9, 2012

Rules for your ER visit

These a a handful of rules to make your ER visit go faster and more smoothly. Consider them your ER FAQ.

1) I do not care about you, I'm there for your pet. So tell me the truth. Don't worry about what I will think about you, because I, quite frankly, don't have the time to BE thinking of you. I'm concerned with your pet. When you lie to me, it hurts your pet, and DOES make you look like an ass.

a) If you're going to lie, be sure all parties in the exam room have their stories straight. I neither have time to listen to, nor any interest in listening to you argue about no table food/always eats table food.

b) If you insist on arguing with your family, do it in person. Hang up the friggin cell phone. And NO, I will not get on the phone and take your side.

2) I am NOT a smorgasboard or buffet. You can't pick one diagnostic option and two treatment options. I'm not recommending this course of action just to hear myself talk. I'm doing it to reach an accurate diagnosis, and appropriate therapy for YOUR pet. Either shit or get off the pot. The outcomes are a lot better if you'll let me do my damn job.

a) If you think the internet or your aunt's breeder's third cousin can do a better job, feel free to take your critical care pet there.

3) I am NOT a bank. I don't do loans, and they don't do surgery. I know your "student loan can be expected within a month and you can start payments soon after". I know you're "good for it". If I only had a dollar for every time I heard that, I'd have actually made some money in this profession.

a) No, I'm not just going to "help you out" just this once because I'm a "rich doctor". I get paid last after all the bills, payroll, taxes etc. So sometimes I don't get paid at all. I'm not going to deprive my wife for some total stranger who is trying to use a guilt trip on me.

b) When you tell me you only have $200, don't flash 10 crisp $100 bills as you leave. If you decide to limit the treatment your pet receives, remember the outcome was YOUR decision.

4) Please leave your beer out in the car. And no, I don't want one.

5) There is a limit of 3 family members or 450 pounds of family in the exam room. Pick 3 normal sized ones or 2 large ones or 1 XXL. I need some room to maneuver to do my job.

6) The time to tell me that your pet is vicious is BEFORE your pet attempts to disembowel me or my tech.

a) If you laugh or praise your pet for drawing my blood, you WILL be thrown out.

7) No, I don't care how much you paid for you pet, and I'm not impressed by your registered "pure breed West Feliciana Yellow Cur".

8) No, you can't watch me doing surgery. I will be paying attention to your pet's needs, and don't want to be distracted because your pet's life is that important to me. This is not a reality show, it is friggin REALITY.

9) No, I do not watch, and have never seen the ER vets reality show. When you get off of work, do you want to watch a reality show about work? Neither do I.

These should help you with your ER visit. As a matter of record, I saw 5 of 9 this past weekend, which was very slow. On busier weekends we see more. In 19 years in the ER, I can't think of a weekend when we didn't see at least 3 of the 9.


  1. What no death threats??? I always loved getting those. "Yep, now I am really motivated to help you. However, Officer Kickass wants to talk with you first..downtown."

  2. My other favorite is the threat to sue me because they didn't follow my recommendations (of course, I must have been making excessive treatment recommendations because I'm only in it for the money) and the pet died. I'm sorry for your loss, but if you'd have done what I suggested, then maybe we would be in a different boat. Obviously if you can afford a lawyer, then you should've been able to afford the care I recommended. Knock yourself out. I have insurance. Good insurance. And I document everything...seriously, E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G...especially the part where you declined proper care. Your fault, not mine...again, sorry for your loss.

  3. The usual complaints I get are....

    1. You only care about the compassion for my pet. Yeah, we like to work for free just like you must do.

    2. Someone was rude to them. This is the usual reply from someone who doesn't like our recommendations & estimate for treating/surgery.

    3. The Dr or tech was condescending to them. Sorry, we could only get down to a 3rd grade level of communication. If we go any lower than that level, we'd need you to bring in an adult to translate for you. This usually arises from people who have used the #1 &/or #2 complaints.

    There are a few others, but I'm running short on time. Also, I have to go count all that money I'm supposed to be making off these poor people. That's why I drive a 1985 MB.

  4. Amen! I agree wholeheartedly, and I don't work in an ER.

  5. I know the point of this is snark, and some of it is funny, but the fatphobia is not cool.

  6. V. It's not fatophobia--I have literally been in an exam room with six freaking people (four of which did NOT need to be there) and ended up getting yelled at for stepping on people because I didn't have room to move. So take your pick--450 lbs of people, however you want to divy it up.

  7. @V. Wetlaufer - I cannot and would not dare to speak for my esteemed colleague who authored this post, but just speaking from my own personal experience I gotta say, there is truth in it. It has nothing to do with either fatphobia or antifatitism. I happen to have a person of size working closely with me in my own clinic. The sad truth is that exam rooms are of finite size, and for some reason, there are people who feel the need to bring an entire tribe of relatives with them. It's not possible to work in those conditions. Also unfortunately, I have clients who literally - really, literally, as in absolutely this is the truth - do not themselves fit through the exam room door without ten minutes of self-squishing. And they bring friends. And there is just no ROOM for them in the exam room. Honestly, I would like to interview them in the waiting room, examine the pet, and then go speak to them again, rather than try to be wedged into the small exam room with them.

  8. I absolutely LOVE every bit of this. I don't work in the ER, but it pretty much can be said the same for regular DVMs!!

  9. Ahahahahahahahaha, I agree w/ all of this the initial post & the added comments!!! I am one of those ER Techs. I WISH I got this much support from the DVMs I work with! And that they actually stood up to some of our clients like this!

  10. Wow! After reading this I feel like a good pet Mommy! I love my vet, I bake them cupcakes regularly and would trust them with my life---although I seriously do believe my dog's live is more important!

  11. ..and to think I only clicked to get a closer look at the cat in the picture! WOW!

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  13. This is amazing! I found your blog through a friend's facebook posting. These rules can be applied to a normal day at the office too.

  14. Been an ER vet for 14 years and you are right on the ball!!!

  15. Also:

    -- A C-section is not cause for a big giant party in the lobby. Your pet is in pain and distress, yet you stopped to pick up McDonald's, plus every aunt/uncle/third-cousin-twice-removed before coming to our hospital. And clamoring around the (curtained) windows to try to sneak a peek at the puppies just pisses off the staff.

    -- Please don't ask me to speak to your spouse/parent/bookie/pimp on your cell phone. I saw you pull it out of your cleavage, and I also saw the NBC special where they cultured the crap that grows on people's cell phones. Gross.

    -- Sorry you spent $2000 on your designer-breed "Cocker-Pug-Beagle-Labrador" mix and didn't have any money left over for vaccines and, now, treatment for Parvo. Nice iPhone5, by the way.