Worlds Longest Vent . . . I'm Not Kidding

Lounge By KatieTaylor77 Updated 9 Oct 2007 , 6:04pm by Luxe42

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KatieTaylor77 Posted 2 Oct 2007 , 5:48pm
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First off, I apologize if I come off as insensitive or cruel . . . I am just so completely frustrated I need to vent honestly.

I am so completely burned out after work that I just have to get it all off my chest! I work at an emergency animal clinic in Orange County . . . my shift is from 8pm to 8am a few nights a week. I love my job . . . I love the people I work with, the quality of medicine we get to practice, the animals, everything. I am fortunate enough to work in a an area that the majority of my clients never flinch about money when it comes to pet care . . . which really eliminates a ton of stress. However, last night was enough to drive me to drink. (If you work all night and get home in the morning, is it still wrong to have a drink after work???)

First of all, it seems like even though it was a relatively slow night that every client was extremely needy. Maybe their regular veterinarian has the time to sit in the exam room with them and talk about their previous pets medical history that is completely unrelevant to the pet they have brought in currently . . . but this is emergency medicine and thats not a luxury we have. I had more than a few clients get upset with me because I had to pull the doctor out of the exam room to tend to the critical patients in the back. I know people don't realize what is going on in the treatment room . . . but in an emergency hospital there are multiple patients with serious medical problems being managed in the back. We need the doctor to be available at all times in case a patients status changes, lab results come up, etc. To get mad at me for interrupting your questions about hairballs after the doctor has already spent a half hour in the room with you--and for some reason you are preoccupied with hairballs while your 17 year old cat has been having seizures for 3 days and you are for some reason not concerned about that at all???

I just don't get it! I don't get how people come into an emergency room packed with stressed and grieving families and demand to be first, demand to be catered to . . . and all the while their pet has something as small as an ear infection!!! No, we don't take appointments. No, it is not first come first serve. My job is to handle the most critical patients first, so although I feel bad that your dog is uncomfortable, I have to wait and help her later so that the suffering patients are helped immediately. Sorry if that cuts into your personal schedule . . . tough noodles! I can't accomodate everyones needs . . . . and believe me, every client had issues! Everyone wanted me to get them "in and out" as quickly as possible because they had something else they woudl rather be doing. HELLO???? This is an emergency room for pets . . . emergencies by nature are inconvenient. Sorry. Theres nothing I can do about it, its not going to change and getting pissed off at me that you have been waiting for 20 minutes is not going to change a thing!

I am tired of people calling and getting angry with me because I won't let them speak to the vet on the phone. NO NO NO NO NO. I don't care how many times they scream, cuss, threaten, etc. I'm not pulling the doctor away from patients to answer your questions. Guess what???? Its not going to happen because we don't practice medicine over the freaking phone! Why? Because its not good medicine, you will never be doing the right thing for a pet by guessing . . . and guess what folks, ITS ILLEGAL! Yep, the vet could lose his licence (which he needs to be able to work and put food on the table for his family!) When I tell people that it sounds like their pet needs to be seen by a vet you would think I am telling them that they should cut out their own kidney at home and bring it to me on a paper plate. I'm not being unreasonable, I am doing my job. I do a darned good job, too! I know what I am doing, I have experience and common sense . . . and when I say that your dog having a seizure for an hour constitutes an emergency, I'm not freaking kidding! I am so tired of people being angry with me for "wasting their time" even though their pet has something extremely serious going on. They all seem to think it is so simple to provide emergency medical care that we can do this over the phone. What are we, MacGuiver??? Ma'am, I think your dog might have GDV . . . stay on the phone with me and I'm going to talk you through doing surgery at home with a few things you should have in the kitchen. Come on, really???? When I say come in, I mean it!

Now, heres the real kicker. M-O-N-E-Y. 95% of our clients have it. They have plenty of it. I have never seen so many black Amex cards in my life . . . its ridiculous. Unfortunately, the other 5% are going to put me in an early grave. I have no say so in the financial policies of our hospital. Every one of us, including the doctors, are all employees. Our office is owned by a board of local veterinarians . . . and yes, they love the almighty dollar. But heres the deal . . . they aren't really wrong. Money keeps our doors open. Money is why I work there . . . it helps me do things like pay my mortgage, feed my dogs, etc. And yes, money helps me to rescue animals in need as well. Without clients we would be in a world of trouble . . . but we do not run a charity. It sucks, yes. But we are not obligated to provide medical services. So many times lately people have lied, screamed, threatened, etc simply because they want services they cannot pay for but they want us to do these things for free. Its quite simple really . . . do you go to the grocery store and get groceries for free?? No. Do you get gas for free?? No. This is no different. I have no problem when someone is unable to pay for services . . . I only ask that they be honest with me from the beginning. I love love love people who tell me they are flat broke but what can they do in order to get us to bill them? I LOVE IT! Honesty will get you really far . . . . I will bend over backwards for someone who will be open and honest with me from the very start. It may be against hospital policy, but I will go out on a limb and personally vouch for someone who does this. (In the last year I have only had one person I have vouched for turn out to not pay their bill . . . and even then when I personally called they ended up borrowing money from friends and paying the bill simply because I was nice and understanding. I am a pretty good judge of character.) HOWEVER . . . DO NOT yell, scream, throw things, cuss, storm around, etc simply because you cannot pay for services. Do not authorize services--because I keep people very well informed of their pets status, the charges, estimates, etc--and then later tell me tough luck, you don't have money. Don't get angry at me because you do not have a checking account, you have poor credit, your friends, family and even your children will not loan you money. I am still willing to work with you, but in cases like this I want half the money now . . . I'll take payments on the rest. People have to accept their responsibilty to their own pets. Don't accuse me of not being here for the animals and only out for money . . . would I really be taking this kind of abuse if I wasn't here for the right reasons??? Its theft . . plain and simple. (I know this because our lovely local police officers stop by frequently to use our restroom and grab a cup of coffee in the middle of the night. They love to chit chat, and they have always offered to come in and explain the law to clients who become irrational. I have yet to take them up on this offer, but today I came close.) Its the same as if you shoplift . . . its theft. I know people love their pets and get desperate, but I am not going to help someone who is dishonest!

I just get so tired of taking so much abuse from clients . . . I am the bad guy. I am the one who tells them prices, has to go have them sign euthanasia forms . . . payment issues, I'm your gal . . . personality issues, I'm your gal . . . most of the time I'm fine, but lately its really been getting to me.

Last night just topped it off. I came home and booked a vacation to Hawaii . . no joke. It was that bad.

A woman called and said her diabetic 14 year old cat had a seizure and now seemed to be dead. I told her he needed immediate medical care. She wanted me to get the vet on the phone, I explained that if her pet was close to death it was not going to help to talk to the vet, he would tell her the same thing.

She came in . . . the cat looked dead at first. I couldn't get her to give him to me . . . she kept screaming and jumping up and down . . . poor cats head was flopping all over the place . . . I finally grabbed her arms and told her to STOP so I can help her poor cat! I grabbed the cat and ran for the back, handing him to the technical staff and went back to the client. I asked her about authorizing emergency care -- I explain to clients that by signing a form consenting for emergency care it allows us to begin emergency life saving procedures . . and give them an estimate range. She told me immediately she had no money. I put her in a room for the doctor to talk to her.

Before the doctor went in the room I told him she had financial issues. (He tends to forget about cost and run up huge bills that I have to discount down . . . he means well, but he forgets that most of us don't have unlimited funds.) He talks to the client who is still hysterical and since he hates freak outs like that, he pretty much threw me under the bus. He tells her he needs to know NOW if she wants us to save this cat because it is time senstive and since she wants full care, he runs back saying we could figure out her payment issue later. I COULD KILL HIM! He knew he was supposed to tell her she would have to pay half the bill at least . . .

Now, cue the b**ch at the front desk. I go up with an estimate for her to sign . . . not much, $400-500. Basic stuff only . . . catheter, fluids, additives to the fluids, glucose test, office call. She knew she would have to transfer him to her regular vet in when we closed this morning. (Did I mention she owes her regular vet $1500 and tells me he won't see her anymore because she hasn't made any payments in over 8 months?? Or that she was demanding I call him at home to see what he wanted her to do??? AT 3 AM!!!!!!!!) She goes to sign the estimate, but when I started explaining to her that she needed to put a deposit down she became CRAZY! She started getting huffy, throwing the pen down, slamming the paper on the desk . . . very dramatic stuff. Her adult son shows up and calms her down a bit . . . he is obviously used to her issues. He explains to me she is flat broke. She can't apply for Care Credit because her credit is so bad . . . she does not have a checking account so she can't do held checks . . . she can't borrow money because no one is willing to loan her any, etc. I realize she loves her cat, but she had already spent the better part of 10 minutes telling me how she can't handle caring for this cat and he is suffering . . . I can't figure out why she is not considering euthanasia considering the entire situation. Luckily, her son approached the issue with her and she warmed to the idea. I offered to not charge her for all the other things she had authorized us to do . . . insted to cut her bill dramatically and just charge for euthanasia and the cremation. I told her she could make payments and then pick up her pets ashes when the bill was paid. Funny how when I told her the ashes would stay here until the bill was paid is the moment she became adamant that she would NEVER consider euthanasia.

I ended up having to let this cat go without getting even $1 from this client. And the best part . . . the woman who spent the better part of an hour telling me I was a complete cold, selfish, money hungry B**CH got in her nice pretty LEXUS AND DROVE AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me??????????????? Who bought her the Lexus if she has such bad credit????????? So not only did we get completely taken . . . I feel like I sent this cat back into a home that cannot provide adequate and humane care for him. I am positively sick over all of this . . . I hate cases like this!

I realize this in INCREDIBLY LONG . . . . and if you are still reading this I feel so bad for you . . . but it did help to get some of the frustration out. Again, I realize I may come across as cold . . . especially when it comes to the issue of euthanasia. Because it is such a normal thing for me to deal with, I sometimes come across as unfeeling. That is not it at all . . . I simply put a lot of value on my patients and do find myself having to be more cognicent of the clients that bring these pets in and their feelings. When I feel a patient is suffering due to a lack of being able to let them go, it hurts my heart. Sorry if it bothers anyone . . . I hope you also can see that I have a deep love for these patients and want what is best for them.

Thanks again for letting me vent . . . this has been building up for so long!

14 replies
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rcs Posted 2 Oct 2007 , 6:33pm
post #2 of 15

I can totally relate!! I work in a minor emergency clinic for humans and believe it or not, we have the same types of issues...well, except for the euthanasia one! I don't work in the reception or billing area, nor would I want to! We are also owned by a board of doctors and are NOT a non-profit organization. We always have the person coming in that has no intention of paying, has no interest of having services billed and gets irrate threatening to sue because they're told that they'll need to pay atleast a part of the bill at the time of service. We're "refusing to see them" for their ingrown toenail, or runny nose.... No, we're not refusing, just asking you pay something! These are the people that get loud and obnoxious! We get so many "Ask A Nurse" phone calls. Those are phone calls that people are looking for general information (i.e. "I drink alot of water. Am I a diabetic? What are all of the symptoms of diabetes? get the idea) 99% of those people, we have never seen before. We tell them that they need to call their regular doctor (yes, this is due to liability issues as well as it pulls us off of the floor) The most common responses are "Well, I didn't want to bother them" or "They don't open for another 15 minutes". So yes, we have so many of the same issues. Our doctors are sensitive to the patients that don't have any type of insurance and have to pay for everything out of pocket. They will try and find med. samples or coupons for med.s, etc. They won't go the extra mile for those patients that are nasty and abusive to us!

I feel your pain! It can be so draining! I am an animal person, too. I love all of my fur babies. I just lost my special little ferret guy, Kodo, Sunday due to cancer. It's hard. Still can't talk about it. But I know he's not suffering anymore. He was my boy!

Thanks for letting me vent too!

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JanH Posted 2 Oct 2007 , 7:33pm
post #3 of 15

First let me say thanks, KatieTaylor77, for not just printing an impossible-to-read wall of text but using paragraphs. icon_smile.gif

I know pretty much how you feel, as I worked in a major hospital (in security) for 25 years - so you know we got called for all such incidents and MORE!

Amazing and unbelievable creatures, people. icon_lol.gificon_cry.gif

What got me through all those years, was that none of the screaming, etc. was personal. I just happened to be the one there at the time. And the ravings of incredibly spoiled, selfish, stressed, etc. individuals reflected on them not on me (or anything I had done or said).

Those those who work with the public (and are directed by the customer is always right workplace mandate) - this is just another example of how "sh&t flows downhill".....

Better that you should vent than have a heart attack! icon_twisted.gifthumbs_up.gif

Enjoy your vacation sweetie. icon_biggrin.gif

(And remember, it's not us it really is THEM.)

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cakesbybert Posted 2 Oct 2007 , 7:41pm
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Here is a huge HUG. I hope that venting helped you. And actually I would have been inclined to have that drink and enjoy a hot bath. icon_wink.gif
I can understand your frustrations. I know it would be hard to be in your position. I know many in the human medical field have the same frustrations with demanding people. It's strange its usually the ones that need the most help that complain the least and the ones that need the least that complain the most.
I can imagine how strange people become when it comes to their pets - but I agree with you if you can not afford it then other options need to be looked at. It's strange how people think its your fault they don't have the money to pay.

I do not think you are harsh with your attitude towards euthanasia. I think modern medicine is fantastic - but sometimes when it comes to animals we may have come too far. Sometimes nature does know best. I believe releaving the suffering pain is much more humane than often times prolonging what is going to happen anyway. Now everyone is going to think me inhumane. But growing up on a farm, the life and death cycle is the most natural thing with animals. Oh and yes I have cryed buckets after helping birth a calf and having it die in my arms, or having revived a calf nearly frozen to death only to have it die two months later, or having to have a favorite animal put down because of complication of old age.

I'd say keep your head up - enjoy your vacation and relax time. I'm sure you choose your profession because of your desire to help and love of animals - don't let the foolish humans spoil it for you.

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indydebi Posted 2 Oct 2007 , 8:15pm
post #5 of 15

I So feel for you! I know many people can get more attached to their pets than they can their children, so their emotions are at at all time high anyway.

Our puppy got out of the house and got hit by a car, and we had to put him to sleep. I cried for 3 days (and I don't even like pets!) But the staff at the emergency animal hospital was SO kind and SO caring. They even sent my daughter (who was about 7 or 8 at the time) a sympathy card in the mail. So from personal experience, I can appreciate the emotion that you put into your job. And to be jerked around by an IDIOT like that ...... ! icon_mad.gif

Have a drink on me .... and enjoy a well deserved vacation!

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breelaura Posted 2 Oct 2007 , 9:28pm
post #6 of 15

I hear you. I work in family LAW, not even medicine, so nobody (and no pet) is gonna die without immediate attention, but you'd be surprised at the number of "emergencies" I see in a day. icon_wink.gif

My brother works overnights at the people hospital, and he has drinks after work sometimes. Unfortunately, here in the forward-thinking south, he can't actually BUY a drink at that time of the morning, but he can certainly make one at home. icon_biggrin.gif Or two. For medicinal purposes only, mind you.

One thing I've learned from family law, though, is that the one driving the Lexus is the one living on borrowed money (we obviously deal with a lot of financial issues). I've seen some staggering debt, but it's not stopped these folks from tooling around in their little roadsters. Just making the payments on time.

Which is not to say they deserve extra sympathy in most cases, mind you. I'll bet if Lexus lady had been nice and said something like "I'm in debt up to my eyeballs but I love my cat like a child, so what can we do to work this out?" you'd have been all over it. You catch more flies with honey, for sure... and get a lot more done.

Have fun in Hawaii... and drink lots of umbrella drinks!

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Star_dust_girl Posted 2 Oct 2007 , 9:38pm
post #7 of 15

katie, I just wanted to say thank you for everything that you do!!
I have no advice to give. But, having animals myself, I depend on people like you to help when things have gone wrong. I can't tell you how much I (and my family ) have appreciated the people who do your job!! I am sorry that things were very bad the other day but please know that you make a huge difference for people like me!!

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dydemus Posted 2 Oct 2007 , 10:31pm
post #8 of 15

Geez, okay, you made me feel better icon_smile.gif. I was feeling sorry for myself because I'm a mom who has to clean up after everyone. Perspective!!!!!

I'm so sorry you have so much dumped on you! You are a saint to all those animals who receive care despite their mis-behaved owners!!!

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KatieTaylor77 Posted 3 Oct 2007 , 4:36pm
post #9 of 15

Thanks everyone for all your support.

It took sleeping for about 20 hours to really get out of my funk from work. I think it all boils down to the fact that I just hate having to be the bad guy all the time . . . it really starts to bog me down. I hate people ripping me apart and telling how horrible a person I am when they won't deal with their own problems.

There is so much more to it than just yesterday . . . it just all boiled over at once. I'm tired of being everyone's "Mommy" at work . . . having to hound everyone to see if things got done for the patients, making the doctor write up his charts, etc. I get exausted. It seems like the busier we are the more we kick butt as a team . . . but when it slows down things fall through the cracks left and right. I just hate it!

Yesterday was proof positive that its time for me to find something else to do. I was hoping to have a baby this year, so maybe being a Mommy is a better career choice right now.

Thanks again to everyone for their support--it really means a lot.

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adven68 Posted 3 Oct 2007 , 7:06pm
post #10 of 15
Originally Posted by KatieTaylor77

Thanks everyone for all your support.

I was hoping to have a baby this year, so maybe being a Mommy is a better career choice right now.

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. It really stinks when someone ruins something you adore doing.

You obviously are an extremely caring and devoted individual. I think mommy-hood is right up your alley!! thumbs_up.gif

Good Luck!

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FrostinGal Posted 3 Oct 2007 , 9:31pm
post #11 of 15

Katie, you deserve a big hug! I'm a nurse in a pediatric ICU and let me tell you, it's not just your office, it's all healthcare. Animals OR people!

Originally Posted by KatieTaylor77

(If you work all night and get home in the morning, is it still wrong to have a drink after work???)

No, it's not. I work nights, too. Through trial and error, we have come to the consensus that traditional brunch beverages such as mimosas, bloody mary's and shots of tequila are perfectly acceptable. icon_biggrin.gif

(Rest of my post deleted because of very strong feelings about people wasting medical resources and having the nerve to be indignant about us wasting their time.)

Originally Posted by KatieTaylor77

emergencies by nature are inconvenient.

We need to have this engraved on the doors of our ER. Brilliant.

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lardbutt Posted 7 Oct 2007 , 6:11am
post #12 of 15

I think it's the whole human race!

I mean most people don't even understand what an emergency is. I have this neighbor who has "emergencies" all the time. For example......It's lunch time and the power company is coming at 4pm to cut the service off because you didn't pay the bill! Hello....that is not an emergency, you know what is going to happen if you don't pay your bill! Don't wait to tell me when you only have 3 hours left.

My husband is on call for emergency calls only. He works with security systems, like cameras and such. People call all the time and expect to be walked through how to fix their problem, so they don't have to pay for a service call. Not to mention, it could wait till Monday, but they want the free advice on the weekends or late at night!

OK, I'm finished now too! I hope we all feel better now.

Katie, you really do sound like a caring person, so you have to deal with things like this so often. I too, think you would make a great Mommy! Good luck!

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AuntieElle Posted 7 Oct 2007 , 7:54am
post #13 of 15

I used to work in an ER and I can relate as well! My bigge was the Frequent Flyer drug seekers. They seemed to flood us when we were the busiest! Sorry you had such a bad time!


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NEWTODECORATING Posted 7 Oct 2007 , 1:30pm
post #14 of 15

KateTaylor- Been there done that!! Vet Tech for 16 years! Worked ER clinic a few of those years. Don't give up--WE NEED YOU!!

I did find that I love working in a ER, but I NEED to see the cute puppies for a vacc., I NEED to have the flea speech 200 times a day, and I NEED to have relationships with clients that aren't based on life and death situations. I got out of ER meds and went into small animal hospital. It is still stressful -6 doc practice, still the same situations, but I get the fun stuff too.

You sound like a WONDERFUL tech doing all the right stuff! Don't let them burn you out. The animals need you.

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Luxe42 Posted 9 Oct 2007 , 6:04pm
post #15 of 15

Katie I hope you feel a little better. I think some people are under the impression that a Vet works like a regular "people" hospital where it doesn't matter if you can't pay they have to see you anyway.

Some people are just horrible. No manners or sense. I think you did your very best and stayed extremely professional.

As for having a baby....what a joy. Just know, that once you have a baby, everybody and everything becomes 10 times scarier. You look at the world in a way that you never really (really) thought about before. I couldn't watch ANYTHING violent or disastrous on tv after having my daughter. I chalked it up to PPD but even now it affects me.

Just keep being one of the "good guys" and maybe one day we will outnumber the bad ones and change the world just a little bit thumbs_up.gif

Enjoy your vacation!!!

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