August 19, 2009

Animal Care Beats Human Care

I'm glad you came to see me to get this off your chest.
Come back and see me later - next patient please.
--- Dire Straits,
Industrial Disease

A visit to your doctor can make you feel like a number. My recent Executive Physical was conducted professionally but I felt valued mainly for my wallet. Next patient please!

Is animal care any better?

We took Callie, our pet rabbit, to the Small Animal Clinic at the University of Guelph (about an hour west of Toronto). She needed a thorough examination. Callie is our first ever pet. She's been with us for five years and started facing medical issues. Regular animal doctors don't understand rabbits well.

The Clinic
Most patients in the waiting room were dogs with a few cats. That's unnerving company for rabbits and birds, but all animals were well-behaved. After a brief wait, we went to a special room used mainly for birds and exotic critters.
Strange but True: An older man blocked the entrance to the examination rooms. A doctor asked him if he'd move but he refused. Maybe he thought this was funny but no one laughed. When he started moving, he tripped over his dog's leash and fell hard on his back. This was funny but no one laughed.
Dr. Froment asked detailed questions about Callie's background. This took about 20 minutes and covered areas such as medical history, behaviour, symptoms, diet and changes. The private room away from predators helped Callie relax. Next, the doctor got his stethoscope and conducted a brief medical examination (about 10 minutes).

To help Callie feel secure, Dr. Froment put her in her travel cage and took her for a detailed examination. We returned to the waiting room were the man who fell was getting medical attention. He'd been moved to a corner so the clinic could continue functioning.

We returned to the examination room about 50 minutes later. Callie's examination took longer than expected and included at least one more doctor and surgeon. Dr. Harrison now joined Dr. Froment to explain the diagnosis. She had a rabbit with a similar medical condition. We learned that Callie had several life-threatening conditions and could not be treated. The results came as a shock. We were offered additional testing, but this was not recommended. Our options were discussed over a 30 minute period. We weren't rushed, but time wasn't wasted either.

The doctors treated Callie in a caring way. They were not focused on our wallets. Excellent "bedside manner".

Here's how the animal examination compared with my executive physical
  • doctors more caring and compassionate
  • team of specialists (at least two doctors and one surgeon)
  • valuable insights (e.g., we didn't know that rabbits are masters at hiding their symptoms)
  • clearly understood the patient
  • sensible, understandable recommendations
In this case, animal care wins. Your mileage may vary. Have you had a similar experience?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Also Vets have to be more knowledgeable because they have to know and understand the physiology of more than one kind of being.

I often feel that unless your medical symptoms fall into a specific category there is not much hope for you.