Where did I go wrong?!

You're fired! Irate client's verbal assault has Dr. O retrenching
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Jun 01, 2004

My receptionist looked rather frazzled when she delivered the message.

"Doctor O. There is a guy on line one who insists on talking to you. He won't give his name or tell me what it's about. I thought it might be a friend of yours because he called you by your first name.

Against my better judgment, I picked up the phone. After all, how long could it take to say, "I don't need any more life insurance," or "I don't have any money to invest right now."

As it turned out, neither of those two responses would prove appropriate. The caller was on the attack. His verbal assault began the moment I took the call.

"Well, Puddin is not one bit better. Those pills you gave me last month didn't help him at all. Besides, I couldn't get him to take the darn things. I'm getting pretty fed up with this situation, and it's about time for you to face up to your responsibility and do something about it."

Several questions popped into my mind: Who the hell are you? What are you talking about? and Why me, Lord?

As my assailant continued, I recognized his voice. It was Hugh Dunit. I sent someone to get the medical records while Mr. Dunit went on and on.

"Puddin was fine until you put him on those antibiotics last year after he had his teeth cleaned. They gave him diarrhea. Now it keeps coming back every time we give him pork. That medicine of yours made him sick, and you should be responsible for fixing the problem."

I glanced at the record. The diarrhea problem had been going on since long before the dental work. In addition, I saw a notation that Hugh Dunit once blamed a 1998 lameness episode on the routine 1995 neuter surgery. Apparently, he felt he should not be charged for the X-rays because the lameness was obviously my fault.

When his tirade slowed so that I could get a word in edgewise, I suggested that he stop feeding pork, and that we may need to check a fecal sample and run some blood tests if that doesn't stop the problem.

"Don't try to blame his diet, Doc," he said. "Those antibiotics caused the problem. You need to fix it, and I don't think we should have to pay you one penny."

I was strongly tempted to quote Donald Trump's now-famous line, "You're fired!" Instead, I politely offered to forward his records to another hospital, one in which he might have more confidence. He declined, of course. Lousy clients usually do. He vowed to give those pills another try before putting poor Puddin through any further expense.

My next phone call, though somewhat amusing, was no less aggravating.

"Hello, doctor. This is Sharon D. Guilt. I breed Chihuahuas and I'm very upset with you. Mr. and Mrs. Newpet were in to see you with their new puppy and you told them that it is cryptorchid and has a heart murmur. There was nothing wrong with that dog until you told them that it was sick. Now, they want their money back. I think you should pay me for half the cost of the puppy."

I glanced out the window to confirm my location. As near as I could tell, I was still on planet Earth. Therefore, the conversation served to prove something that I had long suspected. This planet serves as the insane asylum for the universe.

As the conversation continued, Sharon D. Guilt was quick to explain her logic.

"You know, doctor, they paid me $500 for that puppy. If they return him, that money comes right out of my pocket. You made about $50 on that office call and it cost me $500. Does that seem fair?"

Actually, it seemed fair to me. She couldn't see it from my point of view, though. In fact, if she were any dumber, she would have to be watered twice a week.