Vet Feedback

The Hidden Truth about Veterinary Feedback

Is Your Feedback Helpful or Harmful?

All humans, being the social creatures we are – not only need feedback, we thrive on it. Feedback helps us grow, improve and contribute to the world in meaningful and better ways.

And sure – we all accept that feedback for improvement isn’t always positive; negative feedback is often the greatest trigger for self reflection and positive change.

In our world that is Veterinary Practice – we get feedback every day. From a dear client’s chocolates to say thank you for taking such good care of her beloved pet to flowers and cards expressing gratitude for a job Veterinary Reviewswell done.

Helpful Feedback

We welcome both positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback means we’re doing things right so we make sure we continue doing those things and do them well.

Then there’s the helpful critical feedback which we appreciate the most – the information that lets us know where we’ve let you down in some way and gives us the opportunity to make changes or amends.

You may not know it – but we act on feedback every day. In our busy Hospital we do our best to make sure your pets are taken care of in the best possible way as well trying to run on time for consultations, respond to your phone messages, update inpatient fee estimations, schedule diagnostic procedures, perform surgery, do farm visits and house calls and attend to any emergencies that come in unexpectedly.

With so many things happening at any given time – Yes – as hard as we try not to, we do slip up at times.

And when we do slip up – we ask you talk to us because for most problems or complaints we can usually find a solution that’s agreeable to everyone involved.

Harmful Feedback

Sadly though – not all feedback we get is constructive or civil and when we are blamed or vilified for things we have no control over this has devastating affects on our team.

  • We’re hard enough on ourselves without being subject to unnecessary abuse. It hurts to be told that we don’t care and that we are terrible vets because we can’t meet the prices of low cost clinics. Yet we’re expected to provide everything that low cost clinics can’t.
  • We’re shamed on Social Media when we can’t diagnose a problem because the client won’t pay for an X-Ray or a blood test. Of course they never mention that fact.
  • If we make a mistake we’re labelled as incompetent. But if the medical profession fails a human patient that’s acceptable.
  • A client complains because their preferred vet can’t meet their scheduled appointment because he’s busily trying to stop a patient crashing in theatre. Apparently saving a life does not take priority over a routine consultation.
  • We’re yelled at because we won’t supply prescription drugs to someone whose animal we haven’t seen for years. Blamed for not breaking a law that could cost us our licence to practice?
  • We are told off for poor service for not being able to see a horse immediately that has been sick for 10 days. It’s us who are negligent – not the owner who has let her horse suffer for days.

And just last week – slandered on Facebook for allegedly ripping off a vulnerable pensioner by providing unnecessary, expensive treatment for her 17 year old dog.

Feedback 1Here’s the Real Story

When “Patch” was seen for the first time last week he was a very sick dog indeed.

In addition to his Illness (vomiting & diarrhoea) – He also had a very big lump on his chest which had now grown so large it made it difficult for him to walk.

We had not seen “Patch” before and it was clear that he had not been checked by a vet for a long time.

The priority was to determine the cause of the vomiting and diarrhoea and painful abdomen.

The second concern was the large lump which had a significant impact on Patch’s quality of life.

From the outset our client accompanied by her adult son were given the option to start finding out the cause of the medical problem OR euthanasia on humane grounds. Taking “Patch” home with pain meds and left to die on his own terms (as this person said we should have done) was not considered a humane option therefore was not offered.

The clients were also informed that if removing the lump after stabilisation of Patch’s medical condition was not wanted then there would be no point proceeding with treatment for his medical condition as we would not be able to achieve quality of life standards. Again – euthanasia was offered as a kind alternative to treatment.

Clients agreed to diagnostics and treatment.

(Examination, Blood Tests and X-Rays) indicated irregularities in the abdominal region plus kidney disease.

Feedback 2An Ultrasound was performed to investigate the abdominal irregularities in the abdominal area. Images revealed pancreatic inflammation and a pancreatic abnormality. Blood tests confirm inflammation

Over the next few days “Patch” was treated for these conditions in hospital and and was responding well and comfortable.

We then discussed the option of sending a sample (obtained via keyhole sampling) of the pancreatic tissue to the laboratory for more accurate diagnosis. This would allow us to determine a prognosis for Patch.

Sadly, despite his initial good response to treatment, Patch relapsed a few days later and it was at this point his owners chose to let him go.

Unfortunately but Yes – these diagnostics plus 24 hour hospitalisation with treatments over several days add up. None of this is basic care. Communication of Patch’s condition, his results, consent for treatments plus estimated costs were via phone as well as face to face when the owners came to visit Patch in hospital.

The clients never voiced any concerns during these conversations or during their visits that could have alerted us to a problem.

At no stage we we ever told to get permission from any persons other that this lady’s mother and son. We were never informed that they were incapable or had no right to make those decisions. It is not our fault that this lady was on holidays during the time of “Patch’s” treatment and therefore not included in any discussions.

So when we read her comments online – we were absolutely shattered.

Did we want Patch to pull through his illness? Of course we did. We treat similar cases every day – even geriatric ones. We even see some pets which aren’t expected to survive an illness or trauma, make a full recovery.

Medicine is not an exact science and outcomes can never be predicted or guaranteed.

As for “Who in their right mind would agree for such an expense in a pet 17 years old and no positive outcome.”

That’s your opinion.  There are many people who do that in Veterinary Centres all over the world every day including our practice. Maybe this was true 15 years ago before the advances in veterinary technologies however in today’s world it’s fast becoming the norm.

For some people having their pet around for an extra few months or even weeks is important to them and just because there are no guaranteed outcomes for some treatments doesn’t deter some people from trying.

People will spend money even when the prognosis looks less than positive. Peace of mind knowing they have done everything they could possibly do before electing to euthanase is important to them.

There can be a lot of anguish around premature euthanasia. In this case people feel guilt, questioning whether they made that decision too soon and should they have asked to find more conclusive evidence that their decision at that time was the right one for their pet.

There are never any easy answers to these situations.

The Ugly Side of Harmful Feedback

Accusations and degrading comments like these add enormous stress to vets and nurses who try their hardest to do the right things by people and their animals every day. Can you imagine how we all felt after this – especially the younger team who looked after Patch day and night?Vet Feedback

Little wonder the profession boasts the highest suicide rate and good caring vets change careers every day.

So shame on people who believe its their mission to spread half truths about others with no information about the facts. You forget that there are real, caring well meaning people at the end of these hurtful comments.

If you have a problem with any aspect of any service whether that’s from us or anyone else – have the decency to make a time to speak with the people involved face to face before you rant online.

In this case we would have welcomed some honest discussions from the concerned party before voicing “her opinion” to the world.

When we spoke with her the following day over the phone we asked her what she wanted from us. Her answer was “Nothing.”!

Certified Canine Rehabilitation Vet

Boris’ Brave Fight to Walk Again

Hello I’m Boris and All I want to do is walk again.

Every month a few “special needs patients come through our doors and “Boris” – here is one of them.

Certified Canine Rehabilitation VetBoris came to us after losing his ability to walk after spinal surgery at a Specialist Clinic almost 6 months ago. Since that time his carers have taken him to various therapists across town to help with his rehabilitation but so far there’s been little progress.

Neurological cases like this are extremely challenging as recovery from spinal damage is often lengthy and never guaranteed.

An American contact put Boris’ owners in touch with us as they knew we are certified in Canine Rehabilitation and have the supportive modalities and equipment to provide the necessary daily therapies.

Each day Boris participates in various therapies including Hydrotherapy, Treadmill walking (with support), Electro-Acupuncture, Therapeutic exercises and Laser treatment. Just as important however are his daily motivational exercises and games to help him retain the necessary desire to succeed.

As expected for this kind of condition, progress is slow however we are seeing small improvements every day. It is our ultimate hope that Boris can reach a point where he has gained enough stability and movement in his hind legs to allow him to be fitted to a special cart which he can use as supprt to get around.

At present Boris is staying with us full time in respite care while his dedicated owners take a much deserved holiday.

Fingers crossed we can help make a difference in these wonderful people’s lives.

Vet Bills

How to Make Vet Care More Affordable

Meet Eve and Macy

Eve is one of our typical clients, proud owner of 5 year old “Macy”, a delightful miniature poodle which she loves to bits. She’s a regular at our practice, most of the time just popping in to collect the necessary worm tablets, food and Flea control and staying for a bit of a chat. Every year she also makes an appointment for Macy’s full checkup, vaccination and heartworm injection and so far – keeping Macy fit and healthy hasn’t been a problem.

Until – Macy has a fall!

She’s hurt herself – somehow after jumping off the couch. At first Eve didn’t worry too much as she’s done this sort of thing before and despite a small limp for a day or so, Macy seemed to recover and was back to her normal self again.

However – this time was different. Macy squealed when she tried to put her back leg down and totally resisted any attempts Eve made to try and make her more comfortable. It was clear that this time she’d done something a little more serious to herself and so we see Eve arrive at the clinic with a trembling Macy in tow.

After a full examination and X-Rays it was discovered that Macy had indeed done herself some harm and will need surgery to repair a damaged joint. One one hand Eve is relieved that Macy’s problem could be “fixed” but on the other hand she was concerned that she didn’t have the available funds to pay for the procedure right now when Macy needed it.

This had her worried more than anything else. Thanfully we were able to offer Eve Vet Pay – a convenient way to pay for veterinary treatment over several months.This meant Macy could have the surgery right away – (when she needed it) and Eve’s concerns over how she was going to pay for Macy’s surgery were resolved.Vet Bills

Now – this may be only one story however we see lots of Eve’s and Macy’s every day.

Although many trips to the vet are for routine treatments that we can all budget for, many others are not. They are made up of unexpected injuries and illness that never happen at a good time.

Our job – aside from taking care of your pet’s health is to help provide the different options available to help you pay for veterinary services when needed.

So far – Vet Pay ticks all the boxes when it comes to a third party credit provider..

Benefits include:

  • Fast and easy pre-approval process – You have peace of mind knowing that you have been approved for a designated amount of funds. It means your pet’s treatment can start right away.
  • Easy application process – We can process the application for you while you wait
  • High Approval rates – Most applicants are accepted for a specific limit.
  • Pensioner applications accepted
  • Low application fee of $35.00
  • Payment plans for 6 or 12 months available depending on amount of funds borrowed.

But don’t just take our word for it. Check out Vet Pay to see if it’s right for you.

The Case of the Howling Cat

“What’s wrong with my cat?”

“There’s something wrong with her legs. “She tries to get up but she only manages to stick get her bottom in the air…… and she’s making these loud meowing noises. Then she throws herself on the floor and rolls around.”

Hmmmm … “How old is your cat? “She’s 5 and a bit months old.”

Don’t worry I say – it sounds very much like your cat’s in season. Cats generally come into season around the 6 month mark however – it’s only a rough guide. Some reach sexual maturity sooner and others later.

So – what do you do? Put up with the plaintive yowling because she’s desperate to mate? Or settle down those rambunctious hormones by having her desexed?

Choose option 1 and you may be lucky to have her avoid pregnancy for now but – if not mated, you’ll be going through this every few weeks until she is mated.

Cat, unlike dogs, who come into season around twice a year, are difficult to contain when on heat. Just one escape from the house and a chance encounter with a waiting Tom will more than likely guarantee some extra fur babies in around 9 weeks time.

It’s one of the main reasons for the production of thousands of unwanted litters of kittens each year. Cats are prolific breeders.

The best action to take at this point is to have your cat desexed. Cats can be desexed when they’re on heat but do be prepared for the fees to be higher. We often recommend waiting until she’s gone off heat – around a week or so and then book her in for the procedure.

If she accidentally mates with a Tomcat during that time, don’t worry. Many cats are already pregnant by the time they are booked in for desexing. And desexing during early pregnancy won’t harm her in any way.Cat on Heat Flickr

Apart from preventing the birth of unwanted litters which then need to be rehomed, you’ll be doing your cat a great favour. She won’t have to put up with the stress of the raging hormones or risk being ravaged by preying Toms every time she ventures outside to play.

She’ll be much happier and contented when all these dramas are removed from her life. And, as for you – you don’t have to worry about all the responsibilities of finding good homes for an endless number of kittens she’d be bringing you each year.
Make an appointment to have your cat desexed today – for everyone’s sake.

Need to know more about what desexing involves? Read – “Our spey operation in cats and dogs

P.S. Written in an effort to prevent the dumping of thousands of unwanted cats and kittens in garbage bins, shelters and veterinary clinics everywhere.

Flickr image (c) kaibara87. Used under Creative Common Licence

New shoes mean a new life for Xeba

Life’s great for dogs who can get out and about with their owners however for Xeba, this wasn’t really an option any more until…..

… she got some new red shoes!

Xeba came to us a while ago with a few complaints – one of which was spinal pain. Xeba’s owners also indicated that she had problems with her back legs and that the paws kept “knuckling under” when she walked. This meant that she was injuring her paws and toes when going out for daily walks. This constant tending to injured paws and toes meant that Xeba’s outdoor adventures had to cease – for her own good.

After a course of anti – inflammatories didn’t resolve the complaint, it was time for some further investigation. X-Rays revealed a narrowed and changed angle at the lumbosacrial junction.

We also took Xeba to a specialist for a CT scan. It seems that Xeba has a congenitial abormality in her spine. Unfortunately, she was born with it and it can’t be cured. Apart from this problem, Xeba is a young and happy Australian Bulldog with lots of living to do.

We just needed to find something to help her get oudoors and live that life.

Hence the new red sports shoes.

These new “tough” shoes will allow Xeba’s owners to take her for outdoor walks again without risk of foot injuries. Xeba came in on Friday for her shoe fitting and as you can see – she looks very proud of her sporty new look.