You Pretty Much Don’t Want Them To Get Either, Though

, , , | Right | January 1, 2019

(I’m an assistant at a vet clinic. Another assistant is in a room with the veterinarian and a patient with their owner getting vaccinations. She comes out a few minutes later, shaking her head and smiling. She tells me about this exchange:)

Owner: *while coworker attaches new rabies tag to pet’s collar* “Oh, is that his herpes tag?”

Coworker: *pause* “No, ma’am, this is his rabies tag.”

Owner: “Oh, good!”

(Totally made my day.)

Don’t Get That Mixed Up With The Coffee

, , , | Healthy | December 25, 2018

(A worried-looking woman rushes into the vet’s waiting room, pulls out a double-bagged yellow liquid, and tries to hand it to the receptionist.)

Woman: “IS THIS A NORMAL COLOR FOR MY CAT’S URINE?!”

(It was.)

This Practice Is Now Dead To Them

, , , , , , | Healthy | December 24, 2018

(I have worked at a veterinarian office as a receptionist for the last ten years and know how to read people pretty well. At this particular practice, pets that are getting procedures done are scheduled to be dropped off no later than 8:30 am. This means that by the time I come in at 9:00 am, all the procedure pets are already at the office. The first thing I do is check the schedule to see what appointments are due to come in. A husband and wife come into the office looking visibly distressed. The husband is holding a bundle of towels in his arms very protectively. This is common for people who are coming in with very sick or old pets. I motion for them to come over to my desk.)

Me: “What’s going on there?”

Husband: “This is [Dog].”

(He looks like he is about to cry and doesn’t elaborate the reason for his visit. I remember from looking at the schedule that there is a pet by the same name due to come in to get euthanized. The office has a very strict euthanasia policy. The doctor must examine the pet prior to the procedure, and if the pet appears healthy we will not euthanize. I can partially see the pet wrapped in the towels and can tell that it matches the breed due to come in, but looks it to be healthy. I make a note in the chart so the doctor knows what he is getting into when he does the exam. I motion for them to follow me into the room we leave open for pets that are getting put to sleep.)

Wife: “[Doctor] said we can wait in the office until the procedure is over.” *sniffing into a tissue*

Me: “You can stay as long as you like; there is no rush. If you like you can even stay in the room with her. Let me just get you to fill out the forms, and I will let the doctor know you are here.”

Wife: “We already filled these out.” *barks at me without looking at the forms*

Me: “Okay, let me check your account and see if I can find them.”

(I check the account, and I don’t see any signed euthanasia forms.)

Me: “I am so sorry, but I was unable to find the signed forms. Do you mind filling them out again for me?”

Wife: “Fine.” *goes to sign forms again without looking at them*

Husband: “EUTHANASIA! WHAT THE F***?! [Dog] is here for a [drop-off procedure]!”

Wife: “WHAT?! OH, MY GOD! WHAT THE H*** WERE YOU THINKING?! WHAT IF I SIGNED THAT?! YOU WOULD HAVE KILLED MY DOG!”

Me: “I am so sorry. It was an honest mistake, but don’t worry; we never would have euthanized your pet. [Doctor] always does an exam…”

Wife: “NO! You tried to kill my puppy!”

(Both husband and wife left the room, all the while yelling that I tried to kill their dog to all the other clients in the waiting room. I went straight to the office manager and let her know what happened. I let her know that I didn’t know that there were two dogs that have the same name and breed due to come in on the same day, as well as having a drop-off procedure come in later then is required. I admitted that I didn’t ask the client’s name and that was my mistake. My office manager agrees that it was an honest mistake and anyone would have made the same one. Later an agent from the Better Business Bureau called and took my statement about the incident, and I never heard anything about it again, nor did those clients ever come back.)

Going Toe To Toe With Payday

, , , , , | Right | December 9, 2018

(I am working the reception desk at my vet clinic. Our policy is to not schedule appointments for clients who have large outstanding bills. I am relatively inexperienced at appointment scheduling, and I really should have asked the client’s name before telling her what we had available. This happens on a Wednesday. The phone rings.)

Me: “[Clinic]. This is [My Name]; how can I help you?”

Client: “Hi. My cat may have injured his toe; do you have any openings on Saturday?”

Me: “Unfortunately, we are closed this Saturday, but we do have an opening on Monday morning at eight o’clock.”

Client: “I’ll take it.”

Me: “Great. Can I have your name, please?”

Client: “It’s [Client].”

(I pull up her account and see that she has an outstanding balance of well over $1000. Someone even flagged her account to make sure we don’t provide any more services to her until she pays us.)

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but we unfortunately cannot schedule an appointment for you until you pay off a significant portion of your balance.”

Client: “I’m going to make a payment on Friday.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I can’t schedule you until that payment is made.”

Client: “But I don’t get paid until Friday, and by then, that Monday opening will be taken!”

Me: “While that particular appointment may be taken by Friday, we have other openings next week. However, I cannot schedule you until you have paid off a significant portion of your balance.”

(This goes on for another two or three rounds of her saying she’ll make a payment on Friday and me reiterating that I can’t schedule her until she pays. Finally, I convince her that I’m really not going to schedule her appointment until she pays us.)

Client: “Well, I guess my cat will just have to suffer, then!”

Me: “Goodbye, ma’am.”

Coughing Up The Truth Takes Some Coughing

, , , , | Right | November 30, 2018

(I answer the phone on Saturday:)

Me: “Hello. [Vet Clinic]. This is [My Name]; how can I help you?”

Client: “I think I need to bring my dog in to see you guys.”

Me: “Of course. What is your dog’s name, and your last name?”

Client: “Bruiser Jones.”

(I pull up Bruiser’s file and see that his annual examination, vaccines, and routine testing were all due yesterday.)

Me: “It looks like it’s time for Bruiser’s annual exam, vaccines, and heartworm test; is that what you wanted to come in for?”

Client: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay, when would you like to come in?”

Client: “Monday afternoon, if that’s possible.”

Me: “We can do Bruiser’s annual on Monday at 3:00 with [Doctor he has seen before]. How is that?”

Client: “I’ll take it.”

Me: “Okay, I’ve got you down. Bruiser is doing well, right, no concerns?”

Client: “Well, he’s coughing. That’s why I called you.”

Me: “Oh, that sounds like something we should check out. [Doctor] can still see you, but we only vaccinate healthy pets; if they’re already sick we don’t want to make their immune systems work even harder by giving them a bunch of vaccines. So, we can take care of the cough, but the annual exam and vaccines will have to wait a couple of weeks until Bruiser is feeling better.”

Client: “I wasn’t going to do the vaccines until January, anyway; I can’t afford them right now, what with the holidays coming up.”

Me: “Okay. Bruiser is doing well, otherwise, though, right? Still eating and drinking? Normal energy? Any vomiting or diarrhea?”

Client: “Well, my friend is watching him because I’m out of town, but I think he’s fine except for the cough. Does he need to be seen sooner?”

Me: “Well, I can’t say for sure without seeing him, but usually as long as he is still eating and drinking well and isn’t having other symptoms, it should be fine to wait until Monday. We actually close in about half an hour, and we’re closed on Sundays, as well, but I can give you the number of a 24-hour clinic if you’re concerned, or in case anything changes.”

Client: “I have it already; I think I’ll just wait until Monday.”

Me: “Okay, please call us from the car when you arrive; coughs can be contagious, so we want to make sure we have an exam room available for you so Bruiser won’t need to stand in the lobby.”

Client: “Okay.”

Me: “Have a great day; we’ll see you Monday at 3:00.”

(I hang up the phone.)

Coworker #1: “What was that about?”

Me: “A client with a sick dog called, but when I asked, he said he wanted to schedule an annual exam with vaccines. He didn’t tell me the dog was coughing until I double-checked he had no concerns.”

Coworker #1: “I wish people would tell us up front that they have sick pets.”

Me: “It’s amazing how many people suddenly remember their pet is sick when I ask if everything is going well after they call to schedule an annual exam.”

Doctor: “Yeah, I had a new puppy yesterday where the clients said there were no problems. We did the whole exam, all the vaccines, decided on heartworm and flea preventatives, and had the long ‘new puppy talk’ before the owner said, ‘Doc, I have a question. Is it normal for him to cough all the time?’”

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