Prescription policies and how veterinary clients can be great big meanies
There’s been some stress at my place lately, most of it taking place in the waiting room or on the telephone when clients let our receptionists know exactly how they feel about our prescription policy.
No, our policy has not changed. We still require bloodwork yearly to renew heartworm medication scripts, every six months for most of our chronic medication cases and even more frequently for some diabetics, Cushing’s disease sufferers and those with other specific conditions. Physical examinations must be conducted at least yearly for all.
We’ll happily write prescriptions for online purchases and prescription food—no problem. We accept that some clients will refuse vaccines altogether in spite of our liberal three-year vaccine schedule. And we’re pretty free about sending our clients to a nearby hospital should we happen to run out of something.
All in all we’re pretty easygoing by most hospital standards—I think.
Nonetheless, some clients can be great big meanies with the reception staff. They raise their voices. They accuse them of very personal things. They rail against the policies and demand medications immediately, implying that we’re holding their pets’ health hostage by withholding medications.
This scenario plays out most often with heartworm medications. In this case, owners will swear up and down their pets have never missed a month, yet our records indicate no scripts written and no meds purchased. When asked where they bought their meds, sometimes they can’t remember.
So you know, the standard of care requires a heartworm test for dogs having missed more than a month of meds. That may seem self-serving but research has indicated we all take this tack as a result of some meds’ adverse reactions with larval forms of the disease.
We try to be careful with our patients. We try to be compassionate with owners, too. We bend over backwards, offering house calls for those whose pets can’t easily be brought in for a simple physical and blood draw. We don’t charge office calls when a simple blood draw is all that’s needed. We’re really just looking out for the best interest of the pet.
But not everyone sees it that way. A minority of our clients stands vocally in opposition to such “money-grubbing” ways:
“Stella needs her Rimadyl! Are you saying you’d rather see her suffer when I’m wiling to take on any risk the medication might pose?”
“Scooby needs his phenobarbital! It’ll be your fault if he has a seizure.”
In cases like these I’ll sometimes extend a prescription for another month or two, explaining to clients how critical the labwork is and offering just the basics. Come on, a $45 liver panel and a $20 phenobarb level is all I ask! Just standing out here arguing with you is worth more than that!