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Vet is running hours late. Is it too much to ask for a phone call?

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  • Vet is running hours late. Is it too much to ask for a phone call?

    I know that we all end up treating our vets and our farriers with kid gloves if we want to continue using them.
    And I know that as the owner of one horse at a small barn, there will be some vets who do not want to make a barn call for a one horse client.
    But I've been using the same vet for 10 years. I've always been a good client. And by that, I mean that when I've had bills, including the expensive ones, they were paid on time, with checks that don't bounce. When I've been given instructions for after care for an injury or surgery, I follow those instructions to a "T". When I have an appointment with the vet, I am ready on time, with my horse clean and ready to go in her stall. I don't call for nonsense questions, and I call the office, not the vet's personal cell.
    So I think I deserve at least a modicum of professional communication in return.
    I had an appointment yesterday for fall shots. I'd made the appointment for the late afternoon. I told the office staff specifically that I do understand that the vet may be running late at the end of a day, and if that's the case, please let me know, so I don't use vacation time to leave work early if it's not necessary. 45 minutes before my appointment, I've heard nothing, so I call the office to see if the vet is on time. No response, so I leave on time & arrive at the barn. Only to get a call that he's at another barn on an emergency and will not arrive until 2 hours later.
    Since the vet was already on site at the other barn (the office specifically said that) it was clear that the office knew well before their call to me that he would be late.
    I told the office staff that I thought it was unprofessional and just plain bad manners not to let me know he would be late, so I could plan accordingly.
    When the vet arrived, he called me on the carpet, told me that it's just the nature of the business for him to be late, he's been on the road all day, etc. and basically said that it's too much for me to expect to be notified. I told him I was well aware that emergencies happen, but I thought a phone call, or even a text from his office was not too much to ask.
    We went round about a bit, finished the visit.

    So who's out of line here? Me, for expecting notification that he's late? Or the vet, for going off on me about that expectation?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
    When the vet arrived, he called me on the carpet, told me that it's just the nature of the business for him to be late,
    While I don't *agree* with this mentality, I definitely expect it, and I know that 9 times out of 10, that's the way it's going to be. I think you need to weigh out what is more important to you- having a great vet that you have a 10 year relationship with, or putting your foot down, and risk loosing the vet. I do think that it was rude for the vet to not even act apologetic about running behind.

    For me personally, my old vet was normally pretty good about being on time, or calling. On days that he was late, and didn't call, I overlooked it, because I LOVED my vet, and it wasn't worth it to me to start something. However, all of this is assuming it's a routine visit. If I was having an emergency, you better believe that my vet would burn rubber to get out there, and if he didn't, I'd rip him a new one.

    Comment


    • #3
      Not too much to ask, but don't bet on one

      There's a reason we used to call our vet the "mysterious and wonderful Dr. XXX". It was a play on the great and mysterious Oz...We never knew if he was actually going to come on the DAY he was supposed to, much less the TIME!

      It's not too much to ask IMHO, but the odds of getting it to actually happen are slim. Vets and Farriers (esp farriers) have a great sense of entitlement. And that's because they know a good one is hard to find and hard to keep.

      So, we're just stuck with it.
      Not my monkeys, not my circus.

      Comment


      • #4
        My vets office will generally call if the vets are running early or late. (With my particular practice, it seems to depend on which vet it is--some tend to call the office to let them know, some just continue on with their day regardless).

        My "normal" vet (the one I try to get if I can help it!) will have the office call me if he's running more than 15 minutes early or late, which I really appreciate. I don't freak out if anyone is a bit late, but I think at some point, if I had to leave work, I would just call the office and cancel the appt if it got to a certain time. That said, I understand that emergencies happen, but DO expect to be notified of them so that I can reschedule my own appt
        Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
        White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

        Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

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        • #5
          I always ask that the vet's office call me when the vet leaves the appointment before me. They have always been very good about that. Saves waiting when an emergency comes up.

          Emergencies certainly happen and I don't mind getting bumped because I know that could just as easily be my horse who needs the attention but it takes very little effort on the part of the vet or their office to alert appointments that are down stream.

          The vets in the practice also give out their cell #s so many times they will just shoot me a text to let me know their ETA.
          Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
          EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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          • #6
            Usually my vets (or their offices) do call. I would find it incredibly rude for them to 1) not inform you after you specifically asked to be notified (and with good reason! It's not like we can all take off work easily) and 2) not be at least apologetic about it.

            That being said, I hate waiting for those who are late. So I actually trailer my horses in to the clinic and leave them there for the day for routine appointments and the vets get to them when they have time between other appointments/emergencies. I see it as the equivalent of dropping your car off for an oil change vs. waiting in line for hours on a Saturday morning. It's a little added effort for me, but then they all get regular "field trips" off the farm and practice loading/trailering.
            ETA: I keep mine at home so the only added effort is I drive my rig & drop them off to/from work.

            Comment


            • #7
              So far, my young vet has been perfect. She has been on time or has called herself or had the office call. AND if late, and after having notified me, she always apologizes.
              I know I am lucky to have the vet and the farrier I have. They are on time or let us know!
              I do understand emergencies, but the office knows and can/should call the next client!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
                I know that we all end up treating our vets and our farriers with kid gloves if we want to continue using them.
                And I know that as the owner of one horse at a small barn, there will be some vets who do not want to make a barn call for a one horse client.
                But I've been using the same vet for 10 years. I've always been a good client. And by that, I mean that when I've had bills, including the expensive ones, they were paid on time, with checks that don't bounce. When I've been given instructions for after care for an injury or surgery, I follow those instructions to a "T". When I have an appointment with the vet, I am ready on time, with my horse clean and ready to go in her stall. I don't call for nonsense questions, and I call the office, not the vet's personal cell.
                So I think I deserve at least a modicum of professional communication in return.
                I had an appointment yesterday for fall shots. I'd made the appointment for the late afternoon. I told the office staff specifically that I do understand that the vet may be running late at the end of a day, and if that's the case, please let me know, so I don't use vacation time to leave work early if it's not necessary. 45 minutes before my appointment, I've heard nothing, so I call the office to see if the vet is on time. No response, so I leave on time & arrive at the barn. Only to get a call that he's at another barn on an emergency and will not arrive until 2 hours later.Since the vet was already on site at the other barn (the office specifically said that) it was clear that the office knew well before their call to me that he would be late.
                I told the office staff that I thought it was unprofessional and just plain bad manners not to let me know he would be late, so I could plan accordingly.
                When the vet arrived, he called me on the carpet, told me that it's just the nature of the business for him to be late, he's been on the road all day, etc. and basically said that it's too much for me to expect to be notified. I told him I was well aware that emergencies happen, but I thought a phone call, or even a text from his office was not too much to ask.
                We went round about a bit, finished the visit.

                So who's out of line here? Me, for expecting notification that he's late? Or the vet, for going off on me about that expectation?
                Yes, it's a PITA to have to wait on the vet, but that's the unfortunate nature of the beast and the business.

                Crap happens. And it's often crap we cannot control.

                God bless the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape.
                Alis volat propriis.

                Comment


                • #9
                  When I read the title of the thread, my first thought was to call an hour or so prior to your appointment to be proactive about being informed. After having read your post, I have to say I'd be a bit miffed that I didn't get an answer and that the office/vet didn't bother to let me know about emergencies.

                  We all know that emergencies happen, and if the shoe were on the other foot and we were the emergency, we'd want the vet to come see us ASAP. I'll gladly reschedule or delay my appointment. BUT PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME TWIDDLING MY THUMBS AT THE BARN!!!!!

                  I had an appointment last Friday at 4pm. I knew it would not likely be on time, but I was hopeful. I got a phone call at 2pm from the office saying that the vet was at an emergency (3rd one of the day) and that they could come, but it would likely be after 6pm. I declined and rescheduled for this past Tues, at 4pm. I called the office an hour ahead to check on the vet's schedule. All seemed good, the prior appointment was on time and they were a 20 min drive away.

                  That is how it should work.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My vet calls me, calls me if he's going to be late, calls me on the way so I can have the horse ready, and gives me an approximate time. Of course, for an emergency I might have to wait, but not if it's a catastrophic emergency. Now, I'm lucky, it's a large practice, they always have someone on call.

                    The vet I use most frequently is amazing as well....when my horse fractured his femur last summer, he pulled in another vet to cover for him at the clinic and practically flew to my farm.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This is the main reason that I always try to schedule appointments for first thing in the morning on a Tues, Wed or Thurs. Having worked in veterinary medicine, I know that Monday and Friday are typically "OMG, my dog/cat/horse has A) been sick all week now it's Friday and it's an emergency or B) OMG, my dog/cat/horse has been sick since THurs and I simply must get in Monday"

                      And...if you're first thing in the morning, less chance of delay due to other appts running late. I do this even for my own medical appts when possible.

                      There's one other benefit to scheduling horse related stuff early in the day--less chance some creeping crud will be brought to your barn by the vet or farrier.

                      All that said, I too expect a heads up if there will be a delay. When I make appts, I make it very clear that I understand emergencies happen and that I will happily adjust as I'd hope others would for me--but that I'd like a heads up. I, like you, also tend to call to see if things are running on time.

                      I think that there was a communication issue at the office--when you called, someone was out of the loop and didn't realize he was at an emergency. I don't think that your vet's response to you was very professional. An apology would've been professional. Flagging your file at the office with an alert *call if running late* would be reasonable.
                      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                      Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Just ask to have the vet call you when he's on his way next time. It's pretty much impossible for most vets to be on time if they are one-person operations. I rarely schedule anything more concrete than "Thursday afternoon" so as not to unreasonably set my own expectations.

                        And on the flip side, I want them to drop everything and come to my place if it is *me* with something spewing blood or dangling a limb, so I try to be understanding. And I sometimes am guilty of having them look at "one more thing before you go...." etc., all of which is a time suck for the schedule. And of course, we've all had the horse that seems to be an easy something, but turns into a triple sedation mystery lameness disaster of a three hour vet visit. Or one of mine that must be part wraith or something because his radiographs always need to be taken a dozen times due to blurring, though he always stands stock still. Bless him, that horse loves to be expensive.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
                          Since the vet was already on site at the other barn (the office specifically said that) it was clear that the office knew well before their call to me that he would be late.
                          Isn't it possible that he took the emergency call on his cell and headed there, all without his staff knowing? Isn't it possible that he gave them a heads up after the fact, that he was heading to an emergency call? And, isn't it perhaps possible that the clinic staff just didn't know the severity of the call he was on at the time, had to call him to find out his ETA for you...which if he was in the middle of an emergency, I can't see him running to pick up his cell...and was then informed of the said emergency and probably timeline for his arrival? The above is a VERY probable scenario, and if that's in fact what happened, then he was right on to call you on the spot for your comments to the staff.

                          I understand your frustration, I really do, but I would think the owner of the horse with the emergency would also expect your understanding in this case. Just MHO.
                          “Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion.” ~Emerson

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My vet is always late. Most of the time 2 hours or so but it has been up to 8. Or the next day. I take it in stride, dont sweat the small stuff, and just deal with it, because when I call and say its an emergency, he makes it to the farm in light speed. He knows I dont bluff. So it all comes out in the wash so to speak. I feel just lucky to have him take care of the critters. I also feed him a meal everytime he's here, cause I know hes on the road tirelessly 14 hours or more a day, and needs to eat right. Its hectic and hard to run doing farm calls and you never know what your gonna get into till you get there. I suggest riding along with a mobile vet for a week and it will definately give you a different perspective. Can't really judge it till ya lived it.
                            Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              To me it sounds like a bad day was had and your calling the vet out was like icing on the cake which lead to a response that was out of the norm (I say this because otherwise you would not have been using this vet for the last 10 years).

                              I try to not assume things in a situation like this. You assume that the office already knew when you called originally because when they did call they said he was at the emergency. You do not know that he did not get this emergency call right after you called in and they did not know if it was truly an emergency until he got there, etc.

                              My last routine care appointment went something like this.
                              I call and am told all is running on time. I leave work. Shortly after arriving home office calls and says vet I had scheduled with has an emergency and is now going to be late. No biggy.
                              An hour later I get another call; Vet is still at emergency, it is taking much longer than planned, do I have a problem with a different vet coming out, do I want to reschedule, do I want to wait?

                              I most certainly do not assume they knew about that emergency when I called before I left work.


                              There was one time I ran late and the vet got there early. She most certainly did not read me the riot act for not calling her to tell her I was running a late.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Spotteddraft, you do present a scenario that could explain not calling me. It could have happened, but they did not say "I just heard from him, he's at an emergency" and he didn't indicate that when he arrived. Instead I was very clearly informed that he thought I was out of line for saying that a failure to communicate was unprofessional. But you're right, that's a possibility.

                                There's only one person in his office, so there wasn't a communication gap between staff members.

                                I told both the vet and the staff that I COMPLETELY understand if there's an emergency. I've certainly had times when I've been the emergency call, and I'm well aware that when he pulls into my driveway that someone else has been bumped. I fully expect that he will be late, he always has been, I just want to know so that I don't have to leave early if it's not necessary, and so that someone else doesn't have to stay late to cover for me.

                                In today's world, with cell phones, his staff wouldn't even need to go through the trouble of actually speaking to me. I'd be satisfied with a simple text "doc is 2 hrs late. call if you want to reschedule"

                                If his office is not set up for calling, then at least be honest about it. Tell me you'll be at my barn between 4 and 7, can't narrow it down more. Be like the cable company. But don't tell me that you'll give me a heads up and then not follow through. The staff person had specifically told me she would do that, and she didn't. I deliberately did not say that to the vet, as I had no desire to throw her under the bus on that.

                                I asked for a morning appointment and was told I couldn't have one, any day. And I'm not inclined to bring her to the clinic because the charge to leave her there for the day is significant. And I don't want to haul in just to be left sitting there for hours. If I have to wait, I'd as soon do it in my own barn.

                                It's a tough call. This vet is medically very good, and I have been with him for years. I could have accepted it if he had simply said "if you have a problem with my office, please discuss it with me and let me handle it with my staff" But there was absolutely nothing professional about the way he got up in my face and yelled at me when I had not raised my voice or done anything else confrontational.

                                I guess I've just reached an age when I'm not as inclined as I once was to keep unpleasant people in my life. But perhaps I just need to significantly lower my expectations.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
                                  In today's world, with cell phones, his staff wouldn't even need to go through the trouble of actually speaking to me. I'd be satisfied with a simple text "doc is 2 hrs late. call if you want to reschedule"

                                  If his office is not set up for calling, then at least be honest about it. Tell me you'll be at my barn between 4 and 7, can't narrow it down more. Be like the cable company. But don't tell me that you'll give me a heads up and then not follow through. The staff person had specifically told me she would do that, and she didn't. I deliberately did not say that to the vet, as I had no desire to throw her under the bus on that.
                                  I think you missed it that maybe his staff did not know when you called.

                                  I know that when my vet is elbow deep into something on my horse they do not stop what they are doing to answer their cell when it rings. They also do not pull out their phone and start texting.
                                  I also know that when I call in to see if they are running on time the answer is sometimes that they have not heard otherwise from the vet so they assume so.


                                  I do not think you need to lower your expectations so much as you have to be understanding and not assume things.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    OP, your vet is just not that into you.

                                    Or he was just having a bad day.

                                    IME, vets that have office staffs keep a little more distance from their clients than do the old school-- one person and a truck-- type vet. It's just a different business model, and different experience being in veterinary medicine.

                                    In your spot, I'd call the guy personally the next day and apologize for the rough conversation. I would not say more. FWIW, I think you were right. I'd apologize because it makes your side of the street squeaky clean, because you have worked with the guy for 10 years before this one bad day, and because it's the right thing to do.

                                    You don't have to continue to do business with him if you don't want to, even post-apology. The apology has nothing to do with whether or not you'll decide to continue your relationship. But I think if you *don't* apologize and mean it (in your own head), you'll bring this grudge with you to future interactions.

                                    And dollars to donuts, similar *will* happen in the future. That is not because the vet is bad or you are. It's because this is his business model. He has now told you who he is. If you remain his client, you have implicitly signed up for that. That means you can't be disappointed a second time.
                                    The armchair saddler
                                    Politically Pro-Cat

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
                                      But there was absolutely nothing professional about the way he got up in my face and yelled at me when I had not raised my voice or done anything else confrontational.

                                      I guess I've just reached an age when I'm not as inclined as I once was to keep unpleasant people in my life. But perhaps I just need to significantly lower my expectations.
                                      I would find that behavior to be completely unacceptable. I don't treat my vet (or anyone else) like that and I do not put up with rude people anymore.

                                      I guess the issue for you is how easily he can be replaced. Occasionally you have to put up with rude, but only if you have no other option.
                                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        When I saw the thread title, I thought it meant that you waited hours and hours without a call at all, then I see they DID call, just not as early as you wanted. It is annoying, yes, but I wouldn't ever complain about a vet ditching my appointment to attend an emergency. I've been on the other side, the emergency, too many times. They gave you notice of the delay and maybe that was all the notice the office staff had. Maybe vet was at that barn for an appointment and still on time when a horse came in from turnout needing stitches, or whatever the emergency was. Who knows?

                                        I do kind of wonder about the dressing down the vet gave you about complaining. But I only know your side, so I won't judge them too harshly. Any time my current vet has been late, he's been only apologetic. I do have another vet that I rarely use anymore and that is partly due to his chronic lateness. And as someone else said, I often make my vet appt for the morning so I can get him before the schedule gets all screwed up, but I have that freedom when all my horses now reside in my backyard and I work here too.

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