Wave the white flag

Wave the white flag

Jul 01, 2005

There are times when the client is right, and you are wrong. This is a hard concept for most proud veterinarians. Occasionally "eating a little crow" can be a diet that is very healthy for your practice and your emotional health.

First we must admit to ourselves that mistakes can be made, and we must own up to them. Defending a tenuous position can leave a person with a short-term victory and nagging guilt that revisits the soul like an occasional bout of acid reflux.

Own up to the issue, and see how fast your client melts.

If you're a good veterinarian (isn't everyone), the money issue is insignificant. If you have truly "missed the boat" on a given case, try to assess your situation and offer an amended or full amount depending on the nature and past relationship with client.

Once you have re-opened the conversation in a positive manner and after agreeing to some compromise financially, you will be able to use this new opening in the future to your advantage. Once the air has cleared, you can rephrase the animal's problems and work with the client from this point on to make sure that your patient is being cared for to the utmost of your ability. Remember to refer to qualified people before they self refer to your neighbor. He or she should do the same.

One final word of counsel: The book "The Peter Principle" was written for a very good reason.

— Dr. David M. Lane

Dr. Lane is a graduate of the University of Illinois. He owns and manages two practices in southern Illinois. Dr. Lane completed a master's degree in agricultural economics in 1996. He is a speaker and author of numerous practice management articles. Dr. Lane also offers a broad range of consulting services and can be reached at