Musings of a Veterinarian

Archive for February 24th, 2010

Exam Room Etiquette: How NOT to Behave at Your Vet’s Office

February 24, 2010 By: Dr. K Category: Opinion

Discussions on a colleague’s blog stoked my agitation about rude exam room etiquette.  If you’re a cell phone user, screamer, or lousy parent, this blog post is for you. Most people understand how to behave in any professional appointment. When I go to the doctor’s office, I sit quietly in the waiting room and then in the exam room,  stay courteous, and express my health concerns. I wouldn’t even think about wandering the hallways or yakking on my cell phone. Here are some examples of how not to behave at the vet’s office:

Don’t Arrive Late and Then Act Angry When You’re Bumped to the End of the Line

Most veterinary practices operate on 15, 20, or 30 minute appointment schedules. Your 10-15 minute tardiness can drastically affect the flow of appointments when the schedule is full. Try to arrive early. If you know you’re running late, call the hospital. If you arrive late, be prepared to wait. It’s not fair for clients who arrived on time to wait past their appointment time due to your tardiness.

Stay Off the Cell Phone

Cell phone etiquette is generally terrible every where we go. I enter a public arena and often hear a loud one-sided conversation. That doesn’t belong in an exam room. If you are caught on your cell as the veterinarian walks into the room, promptly end the call. If you don’t, your veterinarian may just walk out on you. I’ve done it.

Don’t Take Your Pet For a Walk During the Appointment

This seems like common sense. If you are in an exam room waiting for the vet, don’t leave. On numerous occasions I have walked into an empty room. I would rather have Fluffy urinate or defecate on my floor (what, you think that’s the first time it’s ever happened?) than walk into an empty exam room. See scheduling crunch listed above.

Your Appointment is Not the Time to Start Disciplining Your Pet

Most pets, when confronted with the unfamiliar and sometimes terrifying prospect of their veterinary visit, will act uncharacteristically anxious, fearful, or aggressive. Vets expect this. I dread owners, who I sense haven’t invested much time in training the pet, that resort to screaming and correcting the dog in a volume loud enough the dogs in the waiting room obey the commands. On the other hand, I also loathe the owner who finds the pet’s biting, scratching, and fearful behavior hilarious. Don’t laugh and think it’s cute when your pet bites at my staff. Bites and scratches are serious threats to well-being.

Your Appointment is the Time to Start Disciplining Your Children

Children should never handle instruments in the exam room. They are expensive and not designed for little hands to bang and drop on the floor. It’s happened to me. Don’t allow your children to pinch, poke, or otherwise agitate the veterinarian. That’s happened to me as well. And it’s always a good idea to keep your kids away from Fido’s face during the exam and vaccinations. You cannot always anticipate fearful behavior and bites may ensue.