Angry at Your Vet? Think About How You'd Want to Be Treated

Not all the letters we veterinarians get from our clients have happy Hallmark sentiments stamped all over them. Much though we may try, we can’t uniformly elicit the best of emotions across the full spectrum of our clientele. Consider this recent experience by way of example:

Last month I received an irate email from a client who expressed her dissatisfaction with my services. After years of treating her pets without incident, she was extremely upset after I “failed to follow up” after diagnosing one of her dogs with end-stage kidney disease.

This was months ago. And she was writing only now to express her fury at receiving an automated reminder for her dog’s annual visit. How callous! She’d had her dog euthanized at another hospital within a week of her last visit, and she wanted nothing more to do with people who didn’t care enough to call and ask how her dog was doing.

My Side of the Story

In my defense, it was my impression that she’d taken my advice and gone to see the specialist. The fact that I’d not received any news from the specialist and, indeed, that the entire situation had vanished from my radar screen altogether, was probably a function of:

a) The fact that I’d had a very limited history of treating this particular pet.

b) I have a lot of patients.

c) I have a lot of patients in renal failure.

d) If my clients need me they usually call me. They don’t typically expect me to call and check in on them. Not unless there’s labwork pending or a mutually-agreed-upon check-in date. That’s how I’ve always worked.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t feel terrible. In fact, I felt awful. So awful that just retelling this miserable story makes my stomach hurt. Call me sensitive, but if you call me out over something you think I should’ve done better, I’ll be swimming in a pit of remorse before you can finish phrasing your disapproval.


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