Popular Posts

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crap For Service From A So-Called Professional

This is going to be more of a "rant" than a blog. So, sorry, but here goes...

My daughter went to her dermatologist this morning. She has some sort of allergic/unknown skin problem which she's been seeing him about. Skin testing was done, and this was a recheck of the test results.

Well, she called me while I was at lunch to tell me about the "appointment." Her appointment time was 10:30, and she was finally called in by the nurse at noon. The nurse made small talk by asking, "How are you doing today?" My daughter informed her that she was going to be late for work due to having to wait so long for the doctor. The nurse told her to tell the doctor about this, because he should be aware of her frustration.

The doctor came in, informed her that she was allergic to rubber, told her to avoid rubber, and said, "Is there anything else?" To which my daughter replied by informing him of her hour-and-a-half wait. Without so much as looking at her, he said,"Well then, I better get my ass in gear," and walked out of the room.

So after two months of suffering with a miserable skin condition, multiple visits to this "specialist," and $120 in co-pays, she is kept waiting for an hour and a half to be told to stay away from rubber. No recheck, no follow-up, no apology or explanation.

Probably the number-one complaint we get from our clients at Horseshoe Lake Animal Hospital is how long they sometimes have to wait to see the vet. It's not unusual for someone to be kept waiting 10-20 minutes. On rare occasions, we have had clients wait for up to an hour to be seen. This is usually because of one or more emergency visits coming in to our hospital. No matter what the reason, we HATE to keep people waiting. We spend a lot of time problem-solving it. Two years ago, we lengthened our scheduled appointment times, so we would be less likely to fall behind (it worked!) We have trained our staff to offer something to clients who are kept waiting (soda, nail trim, even gift certificates if they've had to wait a really long time.) And the first thing I always do when I know someone has had to wait to see me is apologize. Then I make sure they get my full attention for the visit.

Now I doubt there are a lot of dermatological emergencies to make this guy run 1 1/2 hours behind, so I don't know what his excuse is, but to act like wasting anyone's time is a trivial matter is inexcusable to me. Likewise, I consider it shoddy medicine to make a diagnosis with no accompanying explanation or follow-up plan. An animal doctor who behaved this way at my practice would find himself looking elsewhere for employment.

Okay, I'm done. Thanks for reading. Your comments would be welcome.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ear Infections Make Pet Owners Angry!

It is 2:45 on a Friday, and I have already seen five dogs with ear infections today. If practice makes perfect, I could be a "Doggie ENT" (ear nose & throat specialist) by the end of the month. Some of these dogs have been suffering with on-again off-again ear problems for months to years.

A lot of people don't understand how or why their dogs keep getting these infections. They may blame the groomer "for getting water in my dog's ears," or the previous veterinarian "for not treating the infection properly in the first place."
I heard that one twice already today in cases where I was consulted for a second opinion.

The truth is, the majority of recurring ear infections in dogs are due to underlying allergies. The allergy causes the ears to become inflamed, the inflammation compromises the defense mechanisms in the ear, and the infection sets in. The allergies are usually to some food protein (70% are due to beef or dairy ingredients), or environmental allergens (dust, molds, pollen, etc...) The infection can be treated appropriately by the veterinarian, but another infection occurs later, because the allergy is still there.

A common complaint by our clients is our insistence on seeing their pet every time he gets another infection: "Doc, it looks just like it did last time. I don't need you to tell me what it is. Just give me more of the medicine I got last time." Here's why we don't like to do that: Inflamed/itchy/red/greasy/sore/swollen/etc... ears look pretty much the same regardless of whether the culprit is yeast, Staph, another bacteria called Pseudomonas, or just the allergy. Each of these situations should be treated differently. Indiscrimminant use of antibiotic and/or antifungal preparations are less likely to be effective, but more importantly can lead to resistant organisms - the kind that are killing people in human hospitals (Google "MRSA" if you don't know what I'm talking about.) So, yes, even though the ear looks the same to you, it may be a completely different organism (or no organism at all) causing the trouble.

The keys to effective management of reoccurring ear infections are good follow-up by the veterinarian, a cooperative pet owner, management of the underlying allergies, but most of all, great communication between the pet owner and the doctor.