Diagnosis or not?

The news of Twitter’s sale to Elon Musk has me hoping that all the good stuff on Twitter can remain, and the bad stuff will go… we will see.

But recently there was a lovely twitter chat involving @LucyRTyne and @ Binky_2301 and more about how to feel if a client uses social media to air some issues.

The initial comment was from a vet, about a situation where a client had been happy with the way a case had been handled. This was a surprise to the vet as, even though there was no definitive diagnosis, the clients were happy with how the patient had been handled. However, they later posted on social media that they weren’t happy with the lack of diagnosis… and the cost!

Layers of trust

I put in my tuppence worth… and it got a nice positive response and I hope was helpful, so I thought I’d share it here

My response was that in the context of a client / vet relationship the nuances and layers of trust are implicit, and that others may not see this. As with all relationship assessments, those not in the relationship can view it objectively and without emotion, and sometimes demand “results”. I have found before that clients who are happy with a patient’s progress can change their mind when they have discussed the situation with friends and family.

Where others have not been part of the journey, but are trusted friends and family, there can be a clash. The minutia of decision making and contextualized care is lost to those who are objective about the situation.

Cookie cutter

In my own experience I have had pets with the same diagnosis treated very differently because of their physical and emotional needs. To compare treatments and decision making in an animal patients journey is impossible. We cannot have the cookie cutter “patient journey” that occurs in human medical care. In both cases there may be too much of a focus on “the diagnosis”.

Having a name for what is causing the issues is a big part of patient / owner psyche. Although cases can be managed and improved without a diagnosis, it does make discussions with friends and family more difficult. The emotional demand for a definitive diagnosis is strong!

Happy / unhappy

In the context of the initial spark for this blog it was clear to me that the clients had been discussing their pet’s care with friends or family – a completely normal thing, and one that non-dog owners really need to do. Dog owners talk with other dog owners when dog walking… but cat, bird, rabbit owners and more live without that social and supportive contact.

The emotional support of friends and family, and their opinions, can be very influential, so it may not be that the clients were really unhappy and were covering it up in the consult. However, after the consultation when a trusted personal contact challenges the trusted professional contact, it can be hard to defend medical decision making if you aren’t the professional.

We have all been there – a friend challenges something you were happy with and your trust in them makes you consider their opinion to be more important than the professional one. It’s a natural process and hopefully considering it that way may help to process when some client relationships hit a rocky patch.

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