I have seen it happen all too often. It has destroy lives, destroy businesses and even result in suicide. I was almost a victim to it and thankfully it fizzled. It is the social media storm that occurs when someone may not get their way. The majority of the original poster skews the story in their favor making everyone around them agree. Trust me when I say there are three sides and the one the world hears about is usually false.
The New Job
Let me take you back when I was starting a new job. I loved the people, the staff and the clients. I was learning so much there every day. Then I was scheduled a surgery. This is a surgery that I have performed multiple times over. Something that I could to with my eyes closed, but this surgery while scary to some was a breeze to me. I had a feeling about the procedure and I can’t describe what but something that this one is not going to end well.
I did everything right. From start to finish everything went perfect. I sent the dog home on extra medication since he was full of energy, walked the dog out to speak with the owner. I gave clear, specific instructions on leaving that cone on for a full two weeks. The look on the owner’s face I have seen over and over again and knew that it wasn’t going to happen.
In the end the truth is the owner took the collar off, the dog licked the incision and the dog developed an infection. Everything from the specialists, the diagnostics and even a culture confirmed that the infection came from the mouth of a dog but the owner didn’t want to believe it.
Now the owner was upset, unhappy and contacted our manager for a full refund of our services. Of course this was denied. Why was it denied? Think of it this way, when you go to the grocery store you do not get a refund if you leave your chicken out and it goes bad. It is the same concept. After this it began.
The lies to the BBB, the lies to the Veterinary Board and the lies to yelp. All three were told that I used unsterilized equipment and I left an instrument in the dog’s abdomen. Now if you read that what would you think? With the emotion that an owner puts in a review, you would think that lousy vet. You would think what kind of vet these days practices like this. After reading his side you don’t want to hear my side but also you can’t hear my side because I am not allowed to comment on it for a breach of confidentiality. Thankfully, my story ended well. The Veterinary Board threw the case out stating that I did everything right. The owner went on and altered his reviews to take the lies out.
The Black Cloud Around the Profession
It doesn’t always end like this. I have colleagues that have committed suicide because people actually harassed them so much, went out to even say they should burn the hospital down and go after the veterinarian. People have wished the most horrible things on others just because they read a story that was false or conveniently left out information to skew the story in the posters opinion. People who had nothing to do with the original poster. Just random people who came across the post by chance. How is this ok when the veterinarian can’t even try to clear their name by telling their side or releasing the medical records to show the truth?
Veterinary medicine has been hit with the horrible fact that it is the highest rate in suicide. Why? Because we care about the animals, we love them, we want the best for them but we deal with death on a daily basis, we deal with emotional people on a daily basis. We are delivering the horrible news and yet when something doesn’t go perfect, when that disease process takes over we are to blame for that.
The things people have said to me are awful. I have been yelled at, talked down to and told that people know more than me because of Facebook and Google. It is exhausting. When I have people in the rooms and discharging patients I am always hesitant with people because I don’t know if this is the person that is going to do what that one client did to me but much worse.
What Should you do?
Next time you see a story about how horrible a veterinarian, a dentist, a doctor or basically anything else is. Think twice, fully read the story and actually ask questions. Don’t jump on the bandwagon and say you want to burn that place down or take away their livelihood. Don’t call the place of business and yell at them telling them they shouldn’t be a business especially if you are not the person who had the bad experience. Call the person or even the manager and talk about the issue and the problem and resolve it if you are the original poster. I have seen way to many colleagues go through this. Too many of them have to worry about their lives and businesses.
Just because there is a keyboard in front of you, and not the person, doesn’t mean you can be hurtful in what you do or say. Unfortunately, the new normal is having a bad experience and automatically jumping online. People don’t realize the permanent damage they can cause especially when they don’t want to take the blame.
Did you ever have a bad experience somewhere? The first step is talking with the manager to try to resolve the situation. If this doesn’t work then the next best thing is speaking with the owner. Remember the situation may never be resolved 100% in your favor but a compromise on both parties is always something positive.
Do you have a pet and have questions? Head on over to Ask The Veterinarian!