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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Never Be Afraid To Ask

In her comments to my last post, Stefani made these statements....

I get records every time I leave, and I go over them. I review bloodwork. I ask lots of questions about anesthetic protocols and monitoring. I go a place that uses licensed techs. I make specific requests. 

I wanted to bring these up for those who don't read the comments because they are great words of advice.  While I think that the average professional deserves some degree of initial trust (or you would never follow any recommendations the first time to went anywhere), I also think that full trust needs to be built.  Part of that depends on the professional you see acting in an appropriate, open, and ethical manner.  But a large part of that  depends on you as the client to do your part. 

A common bit of advice you will hear about medical treatments is to ask your doctor questions.  While I have mostly heard this in relation to human physicians, I also believe this holds true for veterinary doctors.  We as doctors understand what we're talking about, and try to explain it to people.  Unfortunately, some clients are afraid to admit that they don't know what in the heck the doctor is talking about.  And unfortunately some doctors (or other professionals) aren't good at communicating (though this doesn't make them incompetent).

Whenever I see a pet and I'm getting ready to leave a room, the last thing I always ask is "do you have any questions" or "is there anything else I can help you with."  I deliberately and actively make a point to ask something like this whether it's a well pet or a sick one.  I want to make sure that my clients always understand what I'm talking about.

I also strongly believe that any professional should be able to explain rationally, logically, and with evidence why they are doing or recommending something.  I certainly do so in my own practice.  That's why I don't mind when a client questions me or asks for more clarification.  I also have no problem with clients wanting copies of their medical notes or lab results.  If your doctor/vet/professional can't explain their rationalle or isn't willing to give you copies of the records, you most certainly should wonder why and possibly consider switching. You may or may not agree with your doctors reasons or conclusions, but medicine isn't always 100% certain.  Disagreement is okay, as long as the disagreement is for legitimate reasons.

Many doctors don't explain something further not out of a lack of caring, but because silence from a client is often interpreted as comprehension.  Always be willing to respectfully question your doctors, and never be afraid to ask questions.  Taking this attitude will only help you.