Thursday, January 12, 2012

Frustrations and limitations

As anyone who reads this blog knows, one of the more difficult aspects of my job is helping people deal with their finances. Finding ways to help people treat their pets while staying within their budgets is a crucial part of my job. It's something I do very frequently.

Yet sometimes I am faced with clients that have endless resources, and this can be just as difficult for me.

If you - as a human being - become ill and are admitted to the hospital, you will have a bevy of professionals taking care of you. This includes nurses, a specialist doctor for your particular problem, a hospitalist, a patient care advocate, and on and on. Your health insurance pays for this. Every patient gets some version of this model.

Now, say you come to the emergency clinic with your seriously ill or injured pet. You have all the money in the world to spend. You would expect that your pet will receive 100% of our attention. The problem? There are only a few of us to go around - 1 doctor and 2-3 techs in my case. We are serving multiple clients and pets with problems ranging from the mundane to the very, very serious.

Friday night, I was faced with several critically ill patients. All of them had owners willing and able to pay the expensive fees for aggressive treatment. The problem? I had 2 surgeries to conduct, as well as two circling the drain septic patients to deal with. I had 2 technicians to triage new patients, conduct bloodwork and xrays on new patients (and those in the hospital), and take care of the patients that were already in the hospital - a couple of which required significantly intensive care.

I wound up extremely frustrated with the situation. Trying to stretch my brain to manage the two septic patients (which are nightmares requiring careful monitoring of IV fluids, the additions of medications such as dopamine and the like to regulate blood pressure, and other intensive care) was draining enough. Then I was faced with the surgeries.

If I were an MD, I would be dealing with one aspect of these cases - the surgery perhaps, or the management of the septic patient.

As a veterinarian, I have to deal with them all. The limitation is obviously myself and my technicians. We can only do so much so fast. Mistakes get made when we try to handle too much. Further, I am still young in my career, and I still have a great deal of learning to do. This necessitates researching complex cases, which further takes time away from the actual care of my patients.

Sometimes, I wish I WAS an MD. I think my job would be simpler on some levels.


All4UrPet said...

Everyone can get frustrated with their job sometimes... I agree with you though. I don't think anyone should have to take on to much in any field because that IS when mistake start to happen... I hope that you continue to love what you do, and that the good days override the bad ones... best of luck to you and yours!


All4UrPet Representative

Check out the App store for Android and iPhone to download our mobile application! Simply search All4UrPet.

Elizabeth said...

Don't you have the option of calling in another Vet or tech as backup? Seems like that would be important.

The Homeless Parrot said...

Elizabeth, I actually did both - call a tech and a vet. It was still not enough. By the time the other vet arrived (she lives an hour away and was not at home when I called), I was caught up enough to start doing surgery. Further, her shift started the next morning at 8am, and she was up working with me until 2am. Also not an ideal situation. There are only 3 of us that work at our small clinic, and the other doctor was on her 9 day off stint. We are enough 99% of the time, so hiring another veterinarian is not necessary (nor financially feasible in this economy). No other veterinarians in this area are willing to be on call, because they all work day practice.

So, rock and hard place!

foffmom said...

You are overly optimistic about one at a time MD care. Rarely happens that way. But RNs, particularly ICU RN can manage the septic patients with only a few phone calls an hour as you operate on one patient and the other ICU nurse manages your other preop critical patient. And now there hospitalists, that can also help out with patient management. But the responsibility is still yours, and you can only be in one place at a time.But the quality of backup is infinitely better, vet techs are in no way equivalent to RNs, even though they present themselves as such.