Friday, February 25, 2011

"She Don't Know Nothin' "

Yesterday I got a call from someone who explained to me that "time is tight" and her dog was in pain and needed to be seen right away. Normally this isn't a problem, but Boss Man had just left and wasn't to be back until several hours later, and I offered her an appointment then. That wouldn't work, so she got down to the real reason for the phone call (free advice) and asked what over the counter drug she could give the dog, and oh yes, it was having trouble breathing. I told her I was not "familiar" with what was safe that was non prescription. She hung up on me.
Naturally the first reaction is to say she should make the time to get her dog seen ASAP. I do know what it's like to have a busy day planned down to the wire and be running behind when my child or my pet starts puking. It's just that one more thing that throws everything into a tizzy. So I'll be generous of thought and try to be understanding.
The internet brings plenty of advice, both good and bad. Some is from professionals in the industry (who always put in the disclaimer to see your medical/veterinary professional) and some are lay people. It's up to the asker of such advice to use their brain and a smidgen of common sense when presented with the information.
There are laws to protect the consumer, client, and patient, that are there for a good reason. Unfortunately these laws are so abused and people are so litigious the professional has to be very careful about what they say. The person who answers the phone at the doctor's or vet's office is NOT a medical professional. The only advice I can give is what the Boss Man relays to me, which he will only do if he's seen the patient. If we haven't seen the animal, I tell the owner to get them to a vet.  Doing so otherwise is considered Practicing Medicine Without a License, which can cause me to lose my job, or even my boss to lose his license. And I have yet to find anyone worth risking it over.
I also have to watch what I say with my opinions, of which I have many, when I'm at work, since even voicing them can come back to bite me in the ass. So many people want something that is free so caution is the order of the day. I have recommended certain tests or products under the supervision of Boss Man. But I'm sure as hell not going to give advice to some stranger wanting to medicate a dog who is obviously not well, since the wrong thing could have the worst consequences.
The person answering the phone may not be as stupid as you think, she just may be doing the smart thing: Cover Your Ass.

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