“Trust is like the air we breathe. When it’s present, nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everybody notices.” ~ Warren Buffett
How does the level of trust between client and veterinarian affect the patient? Does it have any impact?
Consider a call received from a barn manager : a new boarder’s horse is displaying signs consistent with colic onset (kicking at stomach, rolling, sweating, biting at sides) and the barn manager requests the vet approve a dose of Banamine and come out as soon as possible. The veterinarian has never met or spoken to the owner. Absent a thorough boarding agreement allowing the barn manager to approve care up to a specified dollar amount, should the veterinarian treat the horse if the owner cannot be reached?
Or assume the veterinarian has seen a horse twice for routine care (vaccines, Coggins tests, etc.) and another owner at the barn notices the horse is on three legs, reluctant to put any weight at all on a limb, and requests a visit as soon as possible. The owner is overseas and has not responded to a message left.
In both these cases, the relationship and level of trust between the client and
veterinarian can make the difference between a quick response or a delay that may cause the horse to be in pain longer than necessary or even make the difference between life and death. The familiarity of a client and his/her feelings about treatment options, treatment occurring without the owner present, financial considerations, and accessibility of the horse’s history are all critical in delivering the most appropriate care in the shortest amount of time.
There is no substitute for a veterinarian familiar with your horse, the horse’s history and the confidence of knowing you trust them to make the best decision for your horse if you cannot be reached. Guesswork is taken further out of the equation when you have a written directive on file (basic example attached. You may wish to consult an attorney to determine legality) with the practice or your boarding facility, specifying dollar limits for work done without your consent. We have clients who we know would choose to have certain horses sent for emergency surgery and others for whom that is not an option. One is not right or wrong, but it sure makes the veterinarian’s job much easier if the owner’s wishes are known.
Like wills, medical directives, and the like, directives for equine care are not things we like to think about, but are important. If you haven’t already, consider putting in writing instructions for your horse’s medical care, including dollar limits, if you cannot be reached. Give copies to your veterinary practice, to your barn manager and anyone who cares for your horse.
Our goal is to provide the very best care for your horse, every time, in accordance with your wishes. We want to be your partners in equine health care; please let us know whenever we may be of help.