Not Being Sedate About It

, , | Healthy | August 10, 2018

(I’m a vet in a country town in Australia. Here, certain prescription drugs for farm animals can be dispensed for use without us seeing the animals, as long as a vet has been onto the property in the previous 12 months. This is rarely an issue, as we go to most farms on a regular basis to do routine work; however, I have trained the receptionists to check a client’s file every time they order drugs, just to confirm when we were last out there. For some background info, a common practice for shearing sheep is to sedate full grown rams, just enough to make them a bit easier to handle, as rams can often weigh as much or more than your average shearer, and can hurt you if they decide to put up a fight. These days, almost all shearers refuse to shear rams without sedation. The sedative used is, of course, a prescription drug, although to my knowledge it is no longer used in people. I haven’t been at this practice very long, so I don’t really know anyone. My boss, on the other hand, has been a vet for a while and knows just about everyone in the community. I’m sure you can see where this is going:)

Receptionist: “[Client] is out the front, wanting [Sedative] for 60 rams. The shearers are coming today, but we haven’t been to the property in over four years. He won’t listen to me at all. Can you please talk to him?”

Me: *heading out to front desk* “Hello, [Client], I believe you’re wanting [Sedative]? [Receptionist] has already told you we can’t give it to you. We haven’t been to your farm for a while now.”

Client: “That’s bulls***. [Boss] gives it to me all the time!”

Me: “Well, I’m not [Boss], so I’m not giving it to you without a farm visit.”

Client: “Come on. Everyone knows I’ve got sheep. What the h*** else would I use [Sedative] for?”

Me: “I don’t know, but people get creative. I don’t know who you are, and I’ve never been to your farm, so I have no idea if you actually have sheep or not.”

Client: “So, you’re going to charge me to come out to my property so that you can see I’m not lying to you. That’s bulls***.”

Me: “That’s exactly right, [Client]. It’s the law. If I get caught dispensing drugs inappropriately, I can get into serious trouble and possibly lose my licence, permanently. I am not prepared to risk years of hard work and a job I love just so you can save $150. Just because [Boss] does it, that does not mean I have to do it. So, either I come out to your farm, or you wait until [Boss] is back in the clinic, and you can take it up with him.”

Client: “Oh…” *suddenly goes very quiet* “I didn’t know you guys could get in trouble.”

Me: “That’s okay. I suspect [Boss] doesn’t, either, which is probably why he just gives it out. Now, I can be at your farm in about an hour; will that be okay?”

Client: “Yes, thank you.”

(Everything went smoothly after that, and [Client] even gave me a box of chocolates to apologise for being difficult. My boss very quickly changed how he worked once I showed him the legislation, and backed me up if other clients ever came in to argue. The original client was also good enough to spread the word around town, and within six months we stopped having issues.)

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