Practice For Profit

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Take diplomacy out of practice: Clients shouldn't influence medical decisions

There is some question of whether I ever grew up. I was not brought up as much as dragged up on the streets of speech-impaired Boston. Many have called me a Damned Yankee, and they could not have been more correct despite the fact that many are just now discovering that this phrase is actually two words.

In my largely Italian-Irish urban neighborhood, I heard many a four-letter word almost every day of my teen years, but absolutely nothing prepared me for the two most obscene words uttered almost daily by so-called learned practitioners of the veterinary arts.

These words offend me in the worst way, and the worst way is in the take-home checks of private practitioners all across this great land of opportunity that we are so fortunate to live in.

These words were never meant to be malicious, and yet they deprive practitioner's children of the ability to attend the best universities, and they deprive veterinarians of the comfortable retirements they so richly deserve after a life dedicated to the well-being of creatures belonging to their clients.

These words deprive veterinary staff of the regular raises common to almost every other profession, and they cause many dedicated employees to seek employment in greener pastures: That truly is an abomination!

What are these two most obscene words, you ask?

Well, I'll tell you. The second most obscene word you use regularly is nine letters long and has done more damage than any bad word uttered outside of holy ground.

That word is "recommend!"

Whoever taught you to use that word in practice should be shot!

We "recommend" pre-anesthetic laboratory testing and recommend post surgical pain control. Recommendations are options. Options kill practices as much as they kill stock market portfolios. Replace "recommend" with a nicer four-letter word, such as "need." Tell clients what their pet needs, and then shut up. Whoever speaks first loses.

If you recommend painting a reception area brown ... who cares? No real harm is done, and the stains won't show as much! If you recommend a morning appointment or an afternoon appointment for any patient not seriously hemorrhaging, it won't effect your life.

Recommendations are not part of the practice act of any state in this good ol' US of A. We are licensed to provide what our patients NEEEEEEED! Note that when emphasized, this is also a nine-letter word.

The need is real

Determine those needs and tell the client! Clients, especially when under stress, are not capable of making medical decisions. They come to you for your best judgment of the specific treatment modality to make their pets well and happy!

Does your dentist ask you to decide between a cap or a crown? I hope not! You listen to his or her advice, and then you do or do not act in your own best interest. Actually, two decades ago, in this very publication, I said, "The veterinarian is the professional most likely to consistently act in the opposite direction of his/her own best interest!"

There is no doubt in your mind as to what your patients really need in 97.3 percent of cases. Just tell the client and stand back! Your bottom line will thank you, too.

Word smith

Now for the most obscene word in veterinary practice. Not only obscene, but it's misused as a noun, and your high school English teacher certainly would be upset by not recognizing the word as an adjective.

That word is "dental!"

What can you be thinking of when you say to the pet owner, "Mrs. Jones, Turdy needs a dental!" Imagine for the moment the confusion you have placed in your client's mind. All those neurons short-circuiting, bouncing back and forth in her cranium: "What's a dental? What's a dental? What is he/she saying?"

How much better for her and you, as well as Turdy, if you had said, "Mrs. Jones, let me show you a problem in Turdy's mouth. Her mouth is painful and infected! See this pus between the teeth and coming out of the gums. This infection is spreading into her blood circulation every time she chews anything! Right now, small abscesses are forming in her liver, kidneys, her heart and all throughout her body. Unless we treat this right now, we know that she is going to die three to five years sooner than she should!"

"We need to borrow (Borrow implies return. We don't admit Turdy because Grandma was admitted, and she never came home. Remember that fear of anesthetic death is the greatest block to immediate care.) her for a few hours to get rid of this infection and the pain!" Then we'll show you how to keep the infection from coming back. I'm going to draw a small blood sample now to make sure that she has no other problems and also to help me prepare the anesthetic that will have her back to you in just a few short hours. "You know that the infection is a much greater danger to her than the modern anesthesia we use!"

"By the way, her bad breath will be reduced, and we're going to save a lot of her teeth that she is about to lose otherwise. People with this bad a case of periodontal disease are twice as likely to have heart attacks"

You are too smart to keep using these obscenities in your practice, aren't you? They are costing you 10 percent to 20 percent of your profits ... every single day! See Ya!

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