There are things we say that get us in trouble. We often don’t think anything of them, just mention them in passing, often something stated as a way to relieve stress or take a stab at humor or to provide perspective on something.
As a afterthought I can think of 3 times that this has been an issue in veterinary medicine for me and others. One that came home to me was when I had an afterthought interaction with a very sick cat where I attempted to examine a wound in its mouth and when it practically passed out due to basic manipulation I stopped and called its caretaker to discuss the situation. While it was happening, one of the other veterinarians I was working with commented in a dry joking manner “I see you are doing non-anesthesia dentistry there.” And as I was on the phone with my client I had to take the phone into another room because of a sudden burst of noise that occurred.
As it turned out (the cat had to be euthanized due to a not yet determined significant occult illness) over a month later I was called on the carpet by not only our hospital medical director but the regional manager as well about the “cat who I killed” seemingly inadvertently. They had taken the word of a suspicious staff member having misinterpreted my colleagues words and thought I was hiding my discussion with the client to make it look like I had not caused its distress. And took it upon themselves to review the record (nothing was there) and interview the employee and finally ask for my side MUCH later. The whole time I had no idea. If they had asked me right off I can only imagine it wouldn’t or at least shouldn’t have been a big deal.
The other two situations had to do with overheard stressed frustrated vet comments overheard by staff, I am going to imagine. Only they know how truthful the situations were, but my role led me to believe there wasn’t much merit to the allegations made. In one case a veterinarian was thought to have a special “PIA” (pain in the ass) fee for certain clients and in the other the doctor had significant medical needs and was believed to be taking narcotics which were effecting her ability to perform her job duties. On closer inspection that didn’t appear to be the case, though an employee did say that they had been heard to say “It’s 5 o’clock, almost time for my vicodin” which was damning.
Ultimately, though we are people too and in stressful jobs, we as veterinary professionals need to remember that ALL of our actions are taken very seriously by those around us and we have to keep our actions above reproach at all times.
Keep your manners and wits about you at all times and you won’t have any ‘splainin to do (remember I Love Lucy?)