Emergency veterinary medicine is definitely not for the faint of heart. I have been fortunate enough to have worked in a busy emergency clinic that had many incredible cases. Some of the biggest lessons I learned came from the fact that I worked in an area with very low income that made a huge difference on treatment. Here are some things I learned...
- Parvo cases sometimes live
The prognosis for a puppy with parvo leaving the clinic with very little outpatient treatment is not very good. Owners are just destroyed that they have to deal with such a deadly virus and we urge people to at least find some treatment options at day practices.
When I have follow up with a client the next week, I always am fearful to make the phone call. I anticipate a crying owner explaining how the puppy just deteriorated and didn't make it.
The surprising thing is that I sometimes get the exact opposite answer. I myself almost start to cry thinking how incredibly lucky this family is.
- Euthanasia is ok
There are many times when it just comes down to money. If they could just get approved for a $2000 credit card, then they could potentially save their friend. When it is not always so black and white, then we are thankful to have the option to euthanize.
- People are funny
In times of an emergency, many clients are quite honestly, plain funny. There are many that understand they put themselves in a situation where they can’t afford the necessary treatment and try to make light of the situation.
In one such case, an owner called herself a “poor broke bitch.” We both just busted out laughing. I felt awful for her situation, but sometimes we have to be painfully honest.
- People are resourceful
It is hard not to judge people and just plain ask the triage nurse if they think the client has any money at all. The great thing is that some of the clients get pretty resourceful. We’ve had grandmothers, neighbors and friends show up to help a dog or cat out.
- Doctors are resourceful
The vets probably have the toughest job when it comes to clients with financial restrictions. It is unsettling to let a pet suffer or leave them with a band-aid on a broken leg.
I am always impressed when a vet comes up with a resourceful treatment, potentially using things that might have otherwise been tossed and at least providing some pain relief when necessary.
Being in a financially restrictive scenario more often than not can be overwhelmingly stressful. While we strive to relieve pain and make pets comfortable, we are often torn between doing what is right in our heart and what the clinic will allow us to do. We do our best daily to give our patients the best outcome possible.