Volume : Is it enough? Bea Fuddled's incessant complaining signals larger professional issue

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Oct 01, 2005

Bea Fuddled and her cat, Dewclaw, were my first office call of the day last Thursday. Neither of them liked veterinarians very much. Dewclaw simply threatened, but Mrs. Fuddled let me have it with both barrels.

"You veterinarians ought to get your act together," she said. "This poor cat has been limping for more than a month, and none of you seem to be able to do a thing about it. I've spent a lot of money with you people and nothing has helped."



I glanced at the cat's record. It was blank. We had never seen him before. It seemed best to start at the beginning.

"Has he had his vaccinations?" I asked.

"Don't try to sell me any shots," she countered. "I get those at the shot clinic that they hold every few months in the Poochi-Petfood Store parking lot. The shots are given by real veterinarians, you know. Besides, we are here about the lameness, not some silly shots that he probably doesn't need anyway."

Ignoring her tirade, I moved on to the next logical question. "What has been done for the problem so far, and was there any diagnosis?"

That set her off on another fit of complaints.

"None of you vets seem to have a clue. I called all the numbers listed at (900) VET-STUFF. I listened to all the messages, and not one of them dealt with Dewclaw's lameness. All I got for my trouble was $46 charge on my VISA card. You'd think that company would have been more helpful. After all, it is run by Dr. Holden D. Line. He's a real veterinarian, you know."

I found myself hoping that a meteor would hit the office and spare me from the rest of the office call. Just my luck, it never came.

"Has anyone ever actually ever treated the leg?" I asked.

"Of course they have," she retorted. "Do you think that I'd just let him suffer? We got medicine from the mail-order vet catalog. It's run by U. Ken Order and Trudy Mail. Their both real veterinarians, you know. Their remedy didn't work at all. There went another 26 bucks down the drain. You vets should be ashamed of yourselves."

I informed her that there were some that I was ashamed of, and proceeded to examine the cat. One of his claws was ingrown and infected. Using a nail clipper and a dose of penicillin, I had him on the road to recovery within minutes. Bea Fuddled didn't like the idea that the road to recovery was a toll road. She complained bitterly about the $48 charge.

After she left, I called my friend, Arnie to complain, not about Mrs. Fuddled, but about colleagues who use their veterinary license as a basis for some money making gimmick.

Unfortunately, Arnie wanted to talk about something else. "Mike, are you going to sign up to be in that new American Dog and Cat Club? It was started by a group of veterinarians. Pet owners pay a fee to sign up and get a membership card. Then, they get a list of participating veterinarians who will offer free exams and large discounts on other services. They claim that participating clinics will get hundreds of new clients."

I already have plenty of clients who don't pay," I told him. "Why would I want more?"

"Volume, Mike," was his answer. "Sure you will lose money on these people. But there will be a lot of them."