Friday, October 2, 2009

Vets and bureaucracies

Someone who runs a Rhodesian Ridgeback discussion group and knows quite a bit about them read my blog note on Ginger’s current vet adventures and was confused by it. I tried to make this event clear, but it doesn’t surprise me that I failed. And I didn’t even include everything in my blog note about this vet episode.

I didn’t mention that another thing the vet was to do was remove a callous from one of Ginger’s elbows. The vet and her assistant during the examination said that many dogs get calluses on their elbows. I was there when the tech asked the vet whether to charge the normal amount for such a removal or something less. He came back in and said they would charge me $20 for this removal. But after I got Ginger back and read the material they sent home with me, the description of this callus removal sounded very like the description I once read about Trooper’s cancer. And the boilerplate I read about this callus (mass) removal didn’t preclude cancer. But I noticed the charge remained $20, even though they would have been justified in charging me more had they run into complications.

So what was all that about? Was the initial examination wrong or did they discover something new during the “excision” of the mass (callus)? Or is this just a bunch of weasel-wording to protect themselves against a possible future law-suit. That is, suppose it was more than the vet told me during the examination. Suppose it turned out to be cancer and Ginger lost a leg. Would I not be upset? Would I not go back to this vet and say “you told me it was a callus and because you didn’t deal with it properly, she will be walking around on three legs for the rest of her life”?

I recently went in for some “follow-up in regard to some cataract surgery I had.” I had to sign disclaimers that warned me that this follow-up laser surgery might cause a whole long list of horrible things including permanent blindness. I asked the technician who had me sign this form how often these horrible things happened. He said he had never seen or heard of an incidence of any of them happening.

If in regard to my laser surgery I turned out to be the first case of everything going wrong and ended up blind, the ophthalmologist would be able to wave the form I signed in front of my blind eyes and say “look, you signed this form warning you that you might go blind.”

By the same token if the callus the vet charged me $20 to remove turned later into something more serious, she would be able to produce her copy of this form and show, right down at the bottom, that I had signed it. Even though I never read it until I got home, I could have right there in the office, with my groggy Ridgeback girl anxious to go home and the night clerk impatiently waiting. I could have read it there and not signed it, but then what?

Also, in regard to my complaint about my current vet’s bureaucratic approach to veterinarian medicine, someone who knew my history could remind me that I left my previous vet because she ran a chaotic office. I could not get anyone to answer my questions or deal properly with Sage’s problems. People do answer my questions at the new vet. The answers are not always correct, but they look me in the eye and say things. And, though I got a wrong answer about Ginger’s tooth removal, I’m sure I shall receive some sort of explanation next Thursday when the vet does a follow-up. So why don’t I just shut up? I will, probably right after this note.

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