Who's to blame for poor veterinary patient care?

Veterinarians and team members overwhelmingly blame clients for noncompliance, but a few shoulder the burden themselves.
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Aug 01, 2010
By dvm360.com staff
At first glance, the questions seem overly simplistic. When pets don't receive proper veterinary care and when clients don't follow your recommendations, who's to blame? Obviously the pet owner. Duh.

And that's the way our survey results mostly came in. Plus, many of you didn't hesitate to tell us what you thought of those survey questions. That they were poorly presented. That there are way too many factors at work in pet owners' decisions to capture the essence of compliance in a few multiple-choice questions. That we should be careful drawing any hard-and-fast conclusions from the results of this part of the survey.

The truth of the matter is that veterinary client compliance is complicated. (Message received, by the way—check out your peers' feedback here.) But what's interesting is that a healthy percentage of you did take on full responsibility for your patients' care, up to and including the client compliance factor. And furthermore, veterinarians were more likely to blame themselves than team members for noncompliance, and team members were more likely to say noncompliance was their fault rather than veterinarians'.

While it may be impossible to quantify all of the variables at play in every client conversation, it may also be true that accepting some level of responsibility for the outcome of those conversations can only be in your—and your patients'—best interests.

If clients fail to provide their pets with thorough veterinary care, who's primarily at fault?
Data source: 2010 Veterinary Economics State of the Industry Study

The complete package:
If clients fail to provide their pets with thorough veterinary care, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

If clients don't follow your practice's recommendations for preventive medicine, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

What you said—Client compliance is complicated

Got a "C" in compliance?
If clients fail to provide their pets with thorough veterinary care, who's primarily at fault?
Data source: 2010 Firstline Team Trends Study

The complete package:
If clients fail to provide their pets with thorough veterinary care, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

If clients don't follow your practice's recommendations for preventive medicine, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

What you said—Client compliance is complicated

Got a "C" in compliance?
If clients don't follow your practice's recommendations for preventive medicine, who's primarily at fault?
Data source: 2010 Veterinary Economics State of the Industry Study

The complete package:
If clients fail to provide their pets with thorough veterinary care, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

If clients don't follow your practice's recommendations for preventive medicine, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

What you said—Client compliance is complicated

Got a "C" in compliance?
If clients don't follow your practice's recommendations for preventive medicine, who's primarily at fault?
Data source: 2010 Firstline Team Trends Study

The complete package:
If clients fail to provide their pets with thorough veterinary care, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

If clients don't follow your practice's recommendations for preventive medicine, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

What you said—Client compliance is complicated

Got a "C" in compliance?
Client compliance: It’s complicated
Veterinarians, practice owners, and other readers had plenty to say about who's to blame for client noncompliance. Check it out:

"We are a very inexpensive practice. If clients don't choose care or preventive care, it's their fault. Some people have other priorities, and it's not up to me to decide whether those priorities are acceptable."

"Sometimes the veterinarian doesn't do a good job explaining, sometimes the team doesn't do a good job following through, and sometimes a client randomly decides to listen to some wackjob on the Internet instead."

"I think clients are often at fault, but for a variety of reasons. If they see me, they get the education on what care a pet needs. But if they ignore our follow-up reminder cards and calls, there may be a good reason—like a change in the pet owner's health or financial status. For others, it's simply that they choose not to take care of their pets in the manner we think they should."

"It's primarily the client who is at fault for not complying with recommendations, but it's up to the veterinarian and the team to thoroughly educate and make sure the client is declining the services from a well-educated perspective."

"There's no fault. If advice isn't accepted, the client has a reason. That's just the way it is—you can't 'guilt' clients into increased commitment to their pets."

"It's a combination of poor client education and client misunderstanding that results in poor compliance, so the entire team (veterinarian included) must share in the fault. Clients will claim recommendations were never made, even when they were diligently explained. Veterinarians and staff will claim the client declined the recommendations, even if education was skipped and a client might have agreed. We need to better educate the public about preventive medicine; it's startling how many pet owners don't use veterinary services at all."

The complete package:
If clients fail to provide their pets with thorough veterinary care, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

If clients don't follow your practice's recommendations for preventive medicine, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

What you said—Client compliance is complicated

Got a "C" in compliance?
Got a "C" in compliance?
Let Denise Tumblin, CPA, walk you through all the ways you can improve client compliance in your veterinary practice. Visit dvm360.com/clientcompliance for the lowdown on letting go of ineffective client recommendations.

The complete package:
If clients fail to provide their pets with thorough veterinary care, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

If clients don't follow your practice's recommendations for preventive medicine, who's primarily at fault?
    Veterinarians say...
    Team members say...

What you said—Client compliance is complicated

Got a "C" in compliance?