Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Doing the right thing sometimes feels bad...

I was faced with a very uncomfortable situation this past weekend. A woman called late one night telling us that her dog was in agonizing pain. She wanted to bring her in. The owner confessed to my technician that originally took the call that she was "heavily medicated herself" and shouldn't be driving. My technician urged her to find someone else to drive her but to no avail.

Over the course of the next 1.5 hours, the owner called multiple times because she was lost. She'd been to our clinic numerous times over the years, so she should have been able to find us. She drove up and down a strip of road not one mile from us for 40 minutes searching for our sign.

In the course of this, she spoke to two of my other technicians, and she told them both the same thing, she was too messed up to drive. She even told one that she'd almost rear-ended someone!

When she got to our clinic, it was obvious that she was altered.

I handled her pet's problem, and then asked her point blank why she was driving. She explained that she'd had a stroke recently and was on several medications. She was a genuinely nice lady, and I felt terrible for her. But she also posed a threat. I told her that I wanted her to call a family member or a taxi service. She would not.

With that, I was forced to call the police. They came and gave her a quick sobriety test. She did not pass. The officer was very kind and told her to call a family member. She was resistant to this. I went into the room and offered to call her a cab. She declined, smiling sadly at me and telling me that "function just wasn't coming back after the stroke like it should've been." I truly felt sorry for this women. She reacted so kindly and understandingly to me, even though I called the police on her.

In the end, she called her sister to pick her up. The officer left, and she went to the front desk to check out. Then her true stripes showed.

"I can't believe you did that," she hissed at my technician. "I will never be coming back here again. It was none of your business."

My tech responded that anyone on a public road endangering lives was certainly her business. The woman made no reply and refused to say another word until she left.

Maybe I'm being soft. Maybe she didn't really have a stroke and was just messed up on drugs. She told me that the only thing she took was her stroke medication, but she told the officer that she'd taken some lorazepam. Still, I felt bad about the whole situation. The only consolation is that I would have felt worse had she driven away and killed herself, her dog, or someone else.

5 comments:

Holly said...

You and your staff did good.

Chris Bern, DVM said...

You absolutely did the right thing! Last Fall a friend of ours was hit head-on by a driver under the influence of prescription drugs. Our friend almost died then, as well as several times in the hospital. It is now 4-5 months later and he's just re-learning to stand and walk. It will probably be this summer at the earliest before he can walk again. He lost his job because of the extended disability, will have permanent problems, and it has devastated his family and their finances. No matter how nice someone is they still can present a risk that could kill or severely disable someone. You may have saved a family from ending up like our friends'.

Vivien said...

You did the right thing. How much worse would you feel if she killed someone and you stayed silent?

Nicki said...

I would not feel bad about this. There is no excuse for driving impaired. Think how you would feel if she had hurt someone. Better this way than the other.

foffmom said...

In my precious professional life, the hospital outpatient facility would have to call the police to report a sedated patient leaving AMA. They are supposed to have a family member drive them and stay with them, but every now and then someone would flat out lie, have a procedure, and leave afterwards to drive themselves. Don't feel bad. It was the right thing to do.And if it was due to a stroke, maybe the family will get cued up to help. If drugs, oh well. Still the right thing.