Nothing hits vets where it really hurts than when news breaks in the hospital of a records request. So-and-so client is defecting to another local practice without leaving word or explaining why. They just want out—usually because they’re unhappy with you for a real or perceived injury to them or their pet.

It happens every other month or so and I guess that’s not too bad compared to the average for a place our size but it’s always painful. We vets are pleasers. We typically want to make you happy—too often at all costs. That’s why it hurts so much to know you don’t think well of us.

For me, it’s enough to ruin a whole day. If it’s an important enough client for whom I’ve given my all, it’s especially debilitating. I must really suck if Mr. X thinks I’m enough of a loser to ask that his records be transferred to Y hospital.

Last week was no different—except that I knew it was coming. The physical exam, labwork and X-rays were normal on this sick pet’s initial visit. He hadn’t eaten well for a couple of days but otherwise checked out OK. When the owners called back to report that he seemed "80% better" after the weekend but still not eating well, I urged them to return for a re-evaluation. They didn’t. I documented it (thank God). The pet died two days later. They left an angry message with the receptionist letting her know they were unhappy with my services. A week later we received the dreaded “records request” in the form of a terse note on legal letterhead.

Ouch. Though I know I’m not to blame it pains me to know that these clients are so displeased with me that they’re willing to take their records to another vet even after their pet has died. If that’s not a bad omen I don’t know what is—the legal letterhead, perhaps?

Hmmm…I wonder if I paid my insurance premium already this year. Excuse me while I check…