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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Veterinary Superstitions And Murphy's Law

Believe it or not, despite extensive education and scientific training, veterinarians can be quite superstitious.  These superstitions are not your typical ones but are specific to the profession.  And for whatever reason, many of them relate to blood collection and catheter placement.

One of the biggest no-nos is to say how easy something will be.  "Look how big that vein is!  That'll be a cinch to hit!"  Comments like this are certain to result in the opposite outcome.  If you state that a catheter will be easy to put in you'll inevitably miss, blow the vein, or otherwise have to stick multiple times.  The same thing happens with blood collection.  Ironically, if you say it's going to be difficult it often is.  So the best thing to do is to keep quiet and not make any comments at all.  You can go into any veterinary clinic, say "this will be quick and easy" and hear the entire staff groan because they know how hard you just made it.  Also, if there are several difficult venipunctures you will hear people talk about needing to appease the "catheter gods", and they're likely only half-joking.

Another truth is that the busier your schedule is the more likely you are to run into difficulties with routine surgeries.  Your suture will slip, you'll have a hard time finding the uterus, you'll have anatomical abnormalities, or just about anything else that doubles the length of the procedure and sets you back.  When you're slow the surgeries will be fast and you'll get finished and have nothing much left to do. 

You also quickly learn that the nice, sweet pets will develop serious or fatal illnesses while the cranky, mean ones will continue to survive with congestive heart failure or cancer even without treatment.  It's not fair, and it probably isn't even statistically correct, but it sure feels like it.  Along the same lines, it will be the worst behaved patients that will need to have blood collected a second time or have multiple repeated x-rays because the first ones didn't turn out right.  Basically it's all Murphy's Law in action but specified for the veterinary profession.

To paraphrase Bruce Wayne as he decided to become Batman, "Veterinarians are a superstitious lot."  I would be interested to hear from my readers all of the superstitions and quirks along these lines that you have seen or have at your own practice.  I know there are plenty more out there, and I'd love to hear about them!


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  2. Hello, I just stumbled across your blog and really like it. I have been reading your past posts and am enjoying it very much. I come from a small town in CA where there is 3 vet clinics (only one I will half step foot in)and all were small animals. Having large animals requires a 30 minute haul to a vet clinic that is becoming quaintly over quality or a 1.5 hour haul to a better quality clinic.

    Thur my life my family has had a large variety of animals. I have ran herds of rabbits and guinea pigs exceeding 100. I have manged a heard of 15 horses and of course we have had many cats and dogs!

    I spent a summer rehabbing sea lions in my home town and all our pets ( besides our breeding horses, rabbits and guinea pigs ) have been rescues.

    Currently all I have right now is a phyco cat. And yes, she is truly the oddest/craziest cat I care to ever own again.

  3. Looking at the schedule for the day, noticing there aren't too many appointments booked, and saying anything along the lines of "oh look, a nice light day." Inevitably, all heck will break loose.

  4. Yup - never think it will be a quiet day/ shift/night... don't curse the vein, and say the catheter prayer as you put the final part in- "please please please please"
    Definitely superstitious in New Zealand too!

  5. At the Marietta Banfield, we hear "Another One Bites the Dust", every day a dog or cat dies or is euthanized on Pandora, so now when we hear it we scramble to turn it off!


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