When Is It A True Emergency?
Published Feb. 2, 2012 @ 12:41 p.m.
Most of you know a few of my articles are based on events currently happening in my life. This stands true for this week's article. We all have friends, right? Friends you see at church every week. Friends you may see at work every day. Friends from school days. But we all have a select group of 'friends' that are in a category of their own. You would lay down everything for them and vice versa. The type of friend which you can be just as hard headed as they are and speak the truth no matter if it hurts or not. I am honored to say I have a friend such as this and was 'called to duty' just a few days ago.
How many of us have struggled with a medical 'issue' wondering if it was an emergency or not? My friend was hurt a few days ago and being 'tough as leather' wanted to avoid going to the doctor. What do you do when a cowboy won't go to the emergency room? Yup, call his vet. No, I'm not joking. But, let me stop here and assure Dr. Edwards I DID NOT give human medical advice! I simply gave a hardheaded argument as to why he should go to the emergency room. I argued of his new grandbaby or his son’s upcoming wedding. Better be safe than sorry. Guess I was a little more hardheaded since I won the argument. Turns out he was lucky and it was not as serious as we were thinking. But it makes you wonder…when do you consider an emergency to be an EMERGENCY? To wait or not to wait? This is a very important question you have to ask yourself before making a decision. A question which is easy to answer at times, but can be very difficult in other times. How does this story have anything to do with veterinary medicine? Everything….
We’ve all heard ‘better to be safe than sorry’, and boy have I seen this in veterinary medicine. I’ve seen people bring in animals the minute they’ve been hurt and others wait 3-5 days before bringing their animal in. In some situations the longer we wait, the prognosis of your pet surviving drops dramatically. When a very sick, or a seriously injured, pet comes in I am more concerned about the big picture versus the smaller, obvious problems. For example, if your pet comes in here after being hit by a car with a broken leg, road rash, and is in shock, you may be surprised I am more worried about the shock over any other injury. I can always fix the broken leg the next day or so after the patient is not in shock. Keep in mind I am trying to save your pets life first and foremost. Animals in shock do not handle anesthesia well. So first we have to treat the shock first, AND THEN I will address the other problems. Another example of this scenario would be with sick puppies. The younger the patient, the more critical it is for them. Don’t wait until your puppy hasn’t eaten in 2 days and is lifeless before wondering if you should take it to a vet.
Other times when your 4-legged family member gets sick, especially if your pet vomits once and is feeling normal otherwise, it’s ok to wait a few hours to see if they continue to be sick or if they will improve. There are a few occasions when waiting a little while before I see your pet helps me diagnosis them and treat the real problem. I had one of these cases last weekend. An owner called about her dog not acting right. When she called the first time, the patient was just laying around, showing no clinical signs of being sick. As the day went on the patient started developing more tell-tell signs of what really was going on. Had I treated the dog after the first call, I would have treated it differently. However, after seeing a few more symptoms, I was able to treat the patient correctly, and the dog is doing much better.
I know there are some of you who will call regardless of the problem (I will not mention any names here), and others who will never call me until it’s too late or down to the wire. I have, and I will always, advise my clients I’d much rather you call me a hundred times about your sick animal rather than not call at all. To wait or not to wait? Sometimes it is a very difficult decision to make by yourself on whether or not you should bring your pet in. I’m always here to help you answer that question. Just don’t ask for my advice on the human side of medicine since my answer will always be “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Call Garza County Animal Hospital, 806-495-3726, with any question you have. There is no fee for your phone call. You can reach us 24 hours a day. After work hours, our phones are forwarded to an answering service prompting you to leave a message. I always try to call you back within 5 minutes of your phone call. However, there are times I may be busy with another emergency, out on a farm call where I can't call you right back, I may not have service, or I may not have got my message at all. If for some reason you have not heard from me in 15 minutes, do not hesitate to call me again and leave me another message. I am here for you in any type of emergency. That’s just the kind of friend I am….