Beware of grass moles


Will Rogers was a man of great perception whose homespun brand of humor and philosophy once captivated America.

Will Rogers was a man of great perception whose homespun brand of humor and philosophy once captivated America.

Michael A. Obenski, VMD

Will Rogers peaceable spirit is reflected in his often quoted line, "I never met a man I didn't like."

Will Rogers never worked in my office.

I would like to take this opportunity to confess to you, right now, that there are people whom I do not like. Who are the people on this list? They are certain of my clients, and you know who they are because you have clients just like them.

True, these "F" clients comprise a small group. Nonetheless, they cause most of our daily anxieties. In my office, they all have one thing in common. Their medical records are marked in the upper left hand corner with the "universal symbol." It is a circle with a dot in the middle and is the universal symbol for something that rhymes with "grass mole."

Anyway, when Mrs. Carping called last week to complain about our services, the symbol on her record was the first thing I noticed.

"This is Alice Carping, Doctor," she announced in her usual obnoxious tone. "I don't care what you say, there must be something wrong with Robusto. He's just not himself today, and I'm not going to pay for this visit, either. We were just there a few weeks ago, and you said he was fine. Besides, you also made me get those expensive vaccines that supposedly were going to keep him well. I think that those shots are probably what made him sick."

The dog's file clearly showed that the last visit was actually five months ago. As she rambled on, my eyes wandered over the somewhat lengthy medical record in my hand. It was a catalog of aggravating veterinary office scenarios that started with my notes concerning the dog's very first visit four years ago. It read:

"Owner wants to know why she has to pay for neutering. Since pet population control is good for the general public, she wants to know why vets don't do these surgeries for free as a public service."

The very next day the record noted:

"Owner cannot get here by closing time to pick up the dog. She wants one of us to stay open an extra hour so she can still pick him up tonight."

Then, quite predictably, the following line read:

"Owner refuses to pay for extra day's board. Says it is not her fault that we insisted on closing on time yesterday."

There were three places on the record where the following notation occurred: "Owner called to complain because our receptionist said that we won't dispense medications without examining the animal first. Her neighbor's dog had the exact same thing, so we should dispense the medicine that the other dog got."

One notable entry said, "Owner refuses to pay for blood tests. She says that they didn't show anything, and that we just wanted to run up her bill by doing unnecessary tests."

Another time, we were chastised for our poor surgical skills.

"Owner demands an X-ray for a swollen stifle joint. She doesn't feel she should have to pay for it since the swelling is probably related to the neutering surgery three years ago. She says she is going to call the Better Business Bureau to report us."

Most importantly, every ugly incident on the record was followed by the following notation:

"We offered to forward copies of the medical records to another hospital since owner would probably be happier going elsewhere."

Unfortunately, "F" clients like Alice Carping rarely accept our invitation to leave. They profess to be unhappy, but they just keep coming back. Luckily, they make up a very small percentage of the people who walk through my door, and yet they dispense a lot of misery.

I cringe when I see one of them listed in the appointment book. Furthermore, I hope that a receptionist or technician will be able to handle each of their phone calls, because I don't want to deal with them if I can avoid it.

Will Rogers may have only seen the good side of people, but there is another more realistic philosopher who said: "Ninety nine percent of the aggravation comes from one percent of the people."

Come to think of it, that was me.

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