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When You Don't Think Your Doctor Cares or Listens

    • 132 posts
    October 20, 2017 4:02 PM EDT

    Doctors are busy people. Whether caring for humans or animals, a day in the life of these professionals is typically hectic. Scheduled appointments or surgeries are the "knowns" or planned parts of their day. Predictably, too, are any number of walk-ins, emergencies, call-backs, and interruptions (did I leave anything out?).  

    A doctor's appointment slot pretty much reflects the amount of time needed for them to interview their patient or client, perform an exam, and do whatever outpatient type(s) of procedures they commonly perform. That time slot isn't generally "padded" to allow for extra time with a patient (in the case of humans) or the client (owner of the pet) to answer questions or spend time listening to and addressing their concerns. It's not surprising, then, that a patient or client may be left feeling unheard, uncared for, unsupported, and short-changed of time and consideration by the doctor. These feelings can lead patients or their caregivers to leave that practice and seek care from a new doctor. This is especially true for patients requiring long-term care for a chronic medical condition or illness.

    This is a big problem in both human and veterinary medicine, and unfortunately health care providers don't give enough consideration to the issue. I'd like to think it's because they are too busy. Perhaps they are unaware.  In our series on the emotional impact of a pet's behavior problem on the caregiver, we heard repeatedly (from pet owners) about how they have felt uncared for or unsupported in the context of caring for a pet with special needs. There are many reasons for veterinary professionals (and MDs) to care about this issue. In our recent webinar on the emotional impact of a pet's aggression on the caregiver, Dr. E'Lise Christensen provided a great perspective on this based on her work with clients whose pets have behavior problems - typically requiring long-term management and multimodal care: