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This time on The Dilemma Live, with Dr. Marc Rosenberg: A team member inadvertently gives a boarding dog regular kibble instead of the kosher food provided by the owners. How would you address this seemingly minor mishap with your clients?
Dr. Rosenberg: Hi and welcome to dvm360 TV. I’m Dr. Marc Rosenberg, and welcome to “The Dilemma Live.” Veterinarians and practice teams encounter workplace dilemmas every day and sometimes they just don’t know how to handle them. Well, I would like to help. Joining us on this episode of “The Dilemma Live” is Bash Halow, a licensed veterinary technician, certified practice manager, and business management consultant from New York, who will share his thoughts on how he would address a dilemma you might face in your practice. I call this scenario the “Kosher Food Dilemma.” Bash, good to see you.
Mr. Halow: Nice to see you.
Dr. Rosenberg: OK, so let’s talk about Dr. Thompson. He’s located in a very successful practice in Brooklyn. He gets a call from good clients, the Cohens, they’re going away for four days and they want to leave Rover with Dr. Thompson to stay for the four days, get examined, updated on his vaccinations, and would they please have him feed the kosher food they feed at home, they’re going to bring it to him. He said, “No problem.”
They brought him over, the dog was there. On the second day technician Carol came to Dr. Thompson and said, “I made a mistake. We accidentally fed the dog the regular food. We did not feed the kosher food.” The doctor said, “Listen, mistakes were made, let’s go back to feeding the food that the Cohens brought.” And she said, “Fine, I’ll make a note in the record and we’ll do that.” He says, “No, no, no. Don’t make a note in the record. There’s no harm here, the dog is doing well, and this might be upsetting to the Cohens. Just feed him the regular food.” She said, “Doctor, you’ve always told us to be transparent with everything we do, make a note in the record.” He said, “In this case I would rather it not be noted. I have reasons for doing that.” She said, “OK, I agree to disagree.” And she did that.
When the Cohens came in to pick up the dog, he said, “Rover did fine. I was glad he was here. He’s healthy.” And off the dog went. So, the question is: Did Dr. Thompson do the right thing? He was concerned that something might occur at home if they found out he was not eating kosher food. He was not familiar with the culture. The technician felt it was very important to be transparent. I want to know what you think, Bash.
Mr. Halow: Yes, the technician is absolutely right. This doctor is not running a transparent practice. He’s running an opaque practice. He should’ve been honest. The idea that you’re going to pull the wool over a client’s eyes, or anybody’s eyes for that matter. We’re all kind of clued into the possibilities of what might go wrong in a service experience.
I’m sure part of the Cohens believe that they may have screwed up at delivering the kosher meal consistently throughout the stay. And how much would they have earned in terms of respect from the Cohens if they would have just owned up to their mistake? They would have been building a deeper relationship. I’m sure there’s a very small chance the Cohens could have blown up if they found out the truth. But there’s a much bigger chance that they’re going to respect this practice for being truthful and transparent and honest with them. The doctor needs to take a lesson from the tech—she knows what she’s doing.
Dr. Rosenberg: Well, I hate to say it, I totally agree with you again.
Mr. Halow: Oh, great!
Dr. Rosenberg: Dr. Thompson, in this case, to act in an ethical and professional manner is to be totally transparent and honest with the clients. He is the expert, they are at a bit of a disadvantage, it’s important that he is always transparent. In this case, this was an honest mistake and the chips have to fall as they may, but in the long run, you’re absolutely right. The technician was right, the doctor was wrong, we would like to know what you thought.
Would you tell your client about this error even though the dog seemed perfectly fine? Email your thoughts about this situation to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com. And, of course, for more veterinary dilemmas, visit dvm360.com/rosenberg. Thanks for tuning in.