Monday, February 27, 2012

Do's And Don'ts: Vetiquette

Do be polite, if not at least civil. The person you are talking to will be happier to help you if you play nice.

Do ask what methods of payment are accepted before you make the appointment.

Do ask what you need to bring besides the pet. If you have copies of previous vet's records, ask if you need to bring them.

Don't scream or berate. Nothing puts the brakes on my cooperation than being called the C word. Saying "I'm stressed and freaked out and I can use your help" will make me do whatever I can to help you.

Do have a good idea of when you can come in and be as flexible as possible about it. It is okay to ask if you can drop the animal off and have us call you at work when we can examine, suggest treatment and estimate cost. I've gone in early for a certain client because her work schedule didn't coincide with our hours, and was glad to do it because she was such a nice lady. It may cost you a day's board depending on the office, but sometimes that's your only choice.

Don't ask for a diagnosis and treatment over the phone. The person answering is not qualified to do that.

Do ask if the symptoms you're describing are things that should be seen ASAP or can wait if you're not sure.

Don't assume any prices given over the phone are set in stone. Realize the charges will likely go up when your pet is seen.

Don't scream at us when we give you a price quote. We quote the prices, not set them. If someone else has a price you like better, go there.

Do plan on paying for at least the exam, or office visit fee. We don't work for free.

Don't call us and ask for drug dosing advice, or over the counter remedies unless your pet was seen by us and it was prescribed by us. We won't give out that info on pets we haven't seen.

Do your best to show up for your appointment on time. Do call us if you can't make it or need to reschedule. We've set that time aside for you and your pet and, pending emergencies, will be ready for you.

Do make sure your pet is on a leash/in a carrier that is secure and under your control when you bring them in the waiting room.  If your pet is frightened/aggressive, let us know and we'll either get you in a room immediately or have you wait outside with your pet.

Do let us know if you see pee or poop on the floor. It's part of the job, and we'll take care of it if we know it's there. Don't blame us because it happened.

Do allow plenty of time for your appointment. Sometimes we have an emergency in we must take first. It's okay to ask to reschedule if you're waiting too long, but don't berate us. One day that emergency that took priority may be your pet.

Do  ask for an estimate of treatment or surgery when you see the vet. Don't freak out and accuse us of price gouging when you see it. Do ask if treating the symptoms would be okay. Do tell us if money is an issue.

If you have been told that diagnosis is only possible with tests/xrays  and opt not to do them, don't call the help constantly and ask for a diagnosis.

All hospitals have slightly different policies. Ask.  If you disagree, don't argue. Go elsewhere.

If you are required to have proof of vaccines before a surgery/procedure, ask what the policy is and provide proof. Do be prepared to pay again for vaccines if you don't bring proof the day of the surgery.

If your pet is on lifetime/long term medication to manage a medical problem, it is okay to ask if you can have the prescriptions called in somewhere else or the price matched. Some vets are required by law to do that and some aren't, the laws vary by state. Do check your state's laws.

Prescription price markups are pretty standardized. The big difference in price is volume discounts. If a small one vet office only buys one dispensing bottle a year, the price will be much higher than a corporation that buys hundreds or thousands of bottles of the same stuff in a year. Don't scream at the little guy, ask if you can get the prescription elsewhere.

We can't control the market markups. Last year the prices of one drug increased 5 times and eye ointments prices increased over 500 percent. Our costs go up, so do yours. Don't accuse us of sucking away all your money.

Likewise drug recalls or shortages. In 2010, there was a huge recall for liquid Amoxicillin, which is a commonly prescribed antibiotic for children and small animals. What was available went to the human pharmacies first, and vet's couldn't buy it anywhere for awhile. Which had clients screaming because they had to pill their cats. No amount of screaming will make something that doesn't exist magically appear.

If you make the decision to find another vet for whatever reason, do be civil about it. Remember that it is noted in your pet's records if you're a difficult client.  We do trade information with our colleagues about a client's behavior and if they have skipped out on payment.  It's best to leave us where we regret losing you as a client rather than have us do a happy dance while burning your chart. And, we may be the only vet available should you have an emergency, so it's best not to burn your bridges.