To a veterinarian and his or her staff, a dropoff is a patient visit in which the pet is left at the clinic while the owner goes to work or runs errands. Dropped-off patients may spend as little as an hour or as long as all day at the doctor’s office.
Dropoffs are great for routine visits in which the patient is problem-free. They are also good for extended workups like glucose curves and Cushing’s Disease testing, both of which require long time gaps between procurement of serial laboratory specimens.
However, there is a down side to dropoffs.
The pet owner may not get to speak to the doctor about the day’s findings unless there is an appointment time for picking the patient up. That is perfectly acceptable if a well-patient examination reveals no problems, or laboratory test results won’t be in for a few days.
Sometimes, though, the situation is like a little dog, Fiffrey, I saw last week. Fiffrey usually sees a doctor in a neighboring town because their office is on the way to the husband’s workplace. He can conveniently drop Fiffrey off there and pick him up after work.
Fiffrey’s last visit there was for a medical problem, and said husband got only a brief written report on the examination findings and treatment recommendation. That is no one’s fault; it simply takes much longer to write a comprehensive report than it does to convey that same information verbally.
The downside occurred when Fiffrey became ill one evening after his regular veterinarian had closed, and the owners came to me with little understanding of what had happened on the last visit. Thus, they had little information to convey to me.
The take-home message is that sometimes that information is almost as important as what the doctor does for the pet.
There are two ways to solve the potential shortcomings of the dropoff visit:
- Make an appointment for pickup. At this time the doctor can discuss all of the physical examination(LINK) findings, diagnosis, the role of medication in recovery and what to expect in the future.
- Make an outpatient appointment. This is ideal, allowing the doctor to make inquiries as she examines your pet, and explain her findings as she works. Not only does that improve the likelihood of an accurate diagnosis, the explanation process begins early. The outpatient appointment can even morph into a dropoff of sorts, as most clinics can accommodate your pet spending the remainder of the day at the clinic, for you to pick him up after your workday or errands.
Good communication is vital to successful medical care, whether you or your pet or some other family member is the patient. For your dog or cat to be as healthy as he can be, an adjustment to your schedule may be needed in order to make time for good communication.
See you next week, Dr. Randolph.