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Frustrating Veterinary Client Phone Calls? Here Are My Top 3!

Posted in Our Community @ Oct 5th 2012 1:03pm - By Gillian Shippen, Nurse Manager & Business Owner: Pets Need a Life Too!
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Recently I was reading a link posted on the Vetanswers Facebook Page The Veterinary Advice Phone Call(PetMD) about the frustrations to both clients and veterinary  practice staff when clients request medical advice over the phone. I posted a comment about the article on Facebook, but it got me thinking about some of the seriously frustrating calls I’ve endured over the years in my role as a Nursing Manager.

I swear my boss thinks all I do is sit at the desk, using the computer. So I love his often highly stressed reaction when he has had to answer a few calls in my absence!

Two of the most frustrating situations that started with a phone call involve people from other countries, so I’m not sure if the issues were made worse by cultural differences or not.  But interestingly all three situations involve females.......

1. Broken leg or something else?

A lady rang our practice and informed me was a GP in her homeland and  wanted me to supply her with plaster cast products so she could cast and splint her cats leg which was clearly broken (her diagnosis not ours). As it was cat fighting season and suspecting a cat bite abscess, I suggested she bring the cat in for us to look at explaining that it really was not appropriate for us to do as she requested and I felt it may well be something else. The owner was adamant the cat had a broken leg and she wanted to fix it.  Her family were against paying vet bills and so she wanted to deal with it herself.

I urged her to bring the cat in and explained that if it was indeed what I thought it was, placing a plaster cast on the injury would make things far worse and again re-iterating the inappropriateness of what she was asking. Finally she agreed and yes indeed, it was a cat bite abscess, something the owner said she had never heard of. At the consult, we attempted to fruitlessly recommend desexing the young Tomcat in answer to her question about prevention.

Funny thing happened – the following cat fighting season I had the exact same woman ring up for exactly the same request as she had the year before – adamant again the cat had broken its leg………….after I went through the same advice as the previous year, we did not see this lady again.

2. Compliance, compliance, compliance!..or drugs only work if you give them to the patient!

Ok this one was super frustrating!  Cultural differences with pet owners is always a challenge and this particular client from a different country, had been a problem over a number of different occasions. On the first visit to our clinic she requested we sell her a FULL bottle of Cartrophen injectable so she could self administer to her pets.  Of course we denied this request, only dispensing enough for the regular four doses.


She came to our clinic looking for a 2nd opinion and it appeared that client compliance regarding medication was an issue. The chief complaint was coughing; the dogs started with antibiotics and it was then suggested both dogs would also benefit from heart medication. Over time the owner would get repeat scripts of the antibiotics, complaining they weren’t working.

She then wanted some cortisone, and as we hadn’t dispensed this to her previously, and there was a note made in her dog’s history that heart medication was warranted, it was suggested she should return to discuss medication. The client was adamant we had dispensed cortisone to her before but we knew we had not, nor had the initial vet. Eventually she returned and the dogs were placed on heart medication (which incidentally the initial vet had already done but the owner had chosen to take her dogs off).

With each repeat script she would question the validity of continuing the medication as the dogs had now stopped coughing! So she again stopped the medication for a short time, contacting us when the coughing re-emerged. This situation has been continuing off and on for some time now!

The latest issue with the same client involves a terminally ill cat that really should be euthanized but the owner does not believe in euthanasia and wants the cat to die naturally. Unfortunately the cat is in pain which the owner does recognise, thus prompting her to ask us to provide her with morphine injections so she could self medicate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. Arghhhhh!!!!

Finally there is the rather unpleasant lady (mmm, really hope it’s not  gender related!) who would change vets every couple of years because the last vet would eventually say no to her request for repeat scripts of Oral contraception for her cats.

The client refused to de-sex her cats because in her opinion, vets charged far too much for the procedure.  Unfortunately, although complaining about the increased price each year, she wouldn’t recognise that added up over the years, she actually paid more for the medication than what it would have cost for surgery! I’m quite sure that all the vets in the past would have given her the warning of health complications associated with continuing use of the medication, but it appeared she would then get belligerent and just change vets until the next one refused.

Well one day her cats not only got pyometra but also had a number of issues with mammary tumours! She then retorted back to us that she blamed all those vets that dispensed the medication to her over the years as they should have said something!

Thankfully not all clients are like these three but some clients are certainly more difficult than others!

Tell us about some of your more frustrating client situations in the comments section below – sometimes it helps to talk about it. :)

~~~~~~~~~~

Gillian Shippen is not only a Nurse Manager, but she has also written a book: 'Pets Need a Life Too - A Guide to Enriching the Life of Your Pet - Series One: Dogs' and runs her online website 'Pets Need a Life Too' where she sells a range of enrichment toys for pets.  Her aim is to "..not just to sell you products but to ensure you are purchasing the right item for you and your pet. For more information, check out 'Pets Need a Life Too' Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory

Comments

Gillian Shippen @ Oct 12th 2012 2:21pm
as a side not from the "compliance" lady - client went to yet another vet practice recently, again having medication changed, and now (with the owner on hoilday) the carer of the dogs has been told we are the owners vet and to get repeat scripts from us............unfortunatly we don't actually know what the other vet has done, and it was very difficult explaining to the carer the best things to do was to go back to the last vet the owner went to, which should be on the drug label of the bottle - the carer kept insisting we had to give her the repeat script and she couldn't tell me at that time who the other vet was!
Judy @ Oct 12th 2012 2:26pm
Oh dear ...the story continues! How very frustrating :(

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