Friday, October 15, 2010

Advice, Please?

"Hi Dr, J, this is Lucy, and Dobbin isn't eating and is just laying there looking miserable. His temp is 99,  and I don't hear gut sounds and there's no fresh poop. I think it's colic"
"Give him X amount of Y drug, take his food away and I'll get there when I can, I'm on the other side of the county."
Which means, in an hour, a day or when Hell Freezes Over.
This is a typical call with a horse vet, and most horse/livestock owners are well versed in home treatment, because even after the vet comes, administering shots and doing basic care is on them. Other than hospitals, which you load up the animal and go for an emergency, an equine or livestock vet is out in the truck doing their calls. Most owners have a stock of a few drugs on hand ready to be administered on the advice of their vet, and they've gotten them from a previous visit. It's a band aid of sorts until the vet can get out, examine and treat.
Unfortunately, this is not the way it works with small animal vets in the office. The vet has to see the animal. If the animal has recently been treated and the owner needs more advice, we can consult over the phone. Likewise, with a chronic problem. If we haven't seen the pet in several months, or never, we can't just give treatment advice or prescribe something.
Back in the day when I first started in the industry, we could give general advice, a band aid type thing until the pet could be brought in. But with the newer state licensing laws, we have to be careful of what we say, or the Boss Man's license could be in jeopardy.
The town I work in used to be mostly dairies and horse ranches. Now it's all tract housing. There's still quite a few leftover people from those days,  plus those from other cultures who don't believe in taking animals to a vet, combined with the high unemployment rate. We're getting a ton of calls for people wanting advice without being seen. Boss Man won't deal with them, it's my job. And I have to watch what I say, because I can get in trouble for practicing medicine without a license. So I tell them the pet needs to be seen, which pisses them off.
I spend more time making disclaimers on the phone, which is why I'm always behind on my office work. It's a constant catch 22.

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