I saw a nice new patient the other day. Angus Blue came to The Animal Medical Center for an evaluation of the tumor growing on the side of his chest.
When I tried to call his owner two days later with the biopsy results, the call would not go through. Fortunately, his family called me the next day and I was able to get their correct number. Turns out Angus’ owner was so upset and nervous about the tumor and about seeing an oncologist, she wrote down the wrong phone number on the registration papers.
Veterinary specialists are really nice people, but seeing one can be intimidating because you generally only consult a veterinary specialist when your pet has a big problem, and of course you are going to be upset.
The little snag in communication with Angus Blue’s family made me wonder how pet owners could make their consultation with a specialist go more smoothly. Here are my thoughts:
1. Find the right specialist. The Internet can help locate the specialists in your area since all the veterinary specialty websites have a search function, but your veterinarian is the best source to identify the best specialist for you and your pet. If you have seen a specialist previously with another pet or for another problem, call and ask them about the right specialist for the current problem.
2. Check the website of the specialty hospital. Like The AMC, many of them allow pre-registration online in advance of your scheduled appointment. Pre-registration removes one task from your list on the day of the specialist appointment. If you get lost or are running late, pre-registration will speed the check-in process along. The website may also have helpful information such as directions and parking information.
3. Ask your veterinarian or call the specialty hospital and determine what information about your pet should be sent in advance of the appointment. Most of the time, the specialist will want a copy of your pet’s complete medical record and copies of any diagnostic images. With computer radiography and electronic medical records, getting the information to the specialist may be as easy as sending an email or burning the images to a CD.
4. Bring a list or all the bottles of the prescription and non-prescription medications and supplements you administer to your pet. A list should include the name of the medication, the dose and frequency. Tablet color is not helpful to the specialist since not all brands of tablets are the same color.
5. Write down your questions for the specialist or your goals regarding your pet’s medical care. Putting your thoughts down on paper will help you focus on what is important to you during the consultation and you can refer to your notes to make sure all topics important to you have been covered during the appointment.
6. Take a friend. Having an extra pair of hands is invaluable when juggling papers, a pen and a leash or carrier. Two pairs of ears are better than one to help remember what was said and what the options are for your pet. Finally, having someone to get coffee or lunch with while you wait is priceless.
This may also be found in the Tales from the Pet Clinic blog on WebMD.com.
For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.