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Why Over the Phone Diagnosis Is a Bad Idea

Conversation 1

Client: “My dog has a terrible rash on his belly, it is red and blotchy, and he is scratching. What do you think it might be?”

Receptionist: “I’m not quite sure, without the Veterinarian taking a look and maybe taking a sample it is really hard to know, we would recommend an exam so that we can take care of that.”

Client: “Can’t you just prescribe some antibiotics, I’m so busy, and it looks similar to what my friend’s dog had, I don’t have time to come in for an exam.”

This is a very common conversation that we have almost every day with a client who calls concerned about their dog or cat. We understand that lives are very busy with work, kids, soccer, dinner etc. etc., however, it is so crucial that the Veterinarian looks at the patient first hand to make a correct and appropriate diagnosis. We would be putting that patient at risk of further infection if we merely guessed at the problem.

Conversation 2

Client: “I think my cat is constipated, he keeps going to the litter box to poop, but nothing happens, can I pick up some laxative for him?”

Receptionist: “It might be a good idea to bring him in to see us for an exam, there might be something else going on that if we miss could be potentially life-threatening for your cat.”

Client: “Can you just ask the Veterinarian to give me some Laxatives please; I can’t afford the exam fee.”

Receptionist: “I am sorry, I know that taking care of a pet can sometimes be a financial strain, however, this could turn out to be a very devastating situation if your cat’s urinary tract is blocked and we treat for constipation instead. I would highly recommend you bring him to us as soon as possible.”

When your health is compromised you would not want your Family doctor to guess and prescribe medication without a full exam; it should be the same for your family pet. Thorough exams for an illness or accident is required before we can dispense medications, so please, please, please don’t ask us to practice anything but the best medicine we can for your pet. By doing this, we are providing our best service to you and in the process could be saving your pet’s life. Our receptionists are trained to triage over the phone, asking questions that will give clues as to whether this might be an emergency or not. Please trust the receptionist and take the advice they give, they see so many different situations, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Written by April McEwan, Assistant Manager

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