If Vets Were M.D.’s
By Lee Pitts
I think we take our large animal veterinarians for granted. Just think of how much worse it could be if veterinarians were more like medical doctors. Let’s say a bow hunter accidentally shot your cow in the rump. Ouch!
Instead of getting almost immediate attention from your vet, you’d phone a number and be placed on hold, listening to ear-splitting music for 20 minutes to schedule an appointment, because vets would no longer make house calls.
“We hear you have a problem with a horse,” says the receptionist on the phone days later.
“No, it’s a cow and some idiot shot an arrow into her rump,” I reply.
“That must hurt. But sorry, the doc is not taking any new patients at this time.”
“We’re not new. He’s been our vet for 25 years.”
“Oh, in that case the soonest we can squeeze you in is in four weeks.”
“You’re kidding? My cow is supposed to walk around with an arrow in her butt for a month?”
“Yes, the DVM is extremely busy because he’s now playing golf twice a week.”
Then, the day before your scheduled appointment you get this phone message.
“We’re very excited to announce the doc has been invited to play in a pro-am golf tournament tomorrow. Please call our office to reschedule your appointment.”
Finally, six weeks after your cow was shot, you load her up and arrive 15 minutes early to fill out the 24-page questionnaire the receptionist hands you.
It asks things like, “Has your cow ever had an STD?”
You’re embarrassed to ask, so you whisper to the receptionist, “What is an STD?”
In her loudest possible voice she practically screams, “Sexually transmitted disease.”
This causes everyone in the waiting room to regard you in a new light. You pervert!
Another question asks, “Besides you and your spouse, who should we contact in case of an emergency?”
You write down your sister-in-law’s name who is a kindergarten teacher, although you doubt she’s going to be much help in removing the arrow from the rump of your cow.
You wait in the waiting room reading four-year-old cow magazines and watching The View on TV. Your name is finally called, so you unload your cow to be looked at by a veterinarian’s assistant (VA) who takes the cow’s blood pressure, temperature, weighs her and offers a preliminary prognosis.
“Your cow appears to have an arrow in her rump.” Then she asks all sorts of questions, including, “Does your cow have insurance?”
“She does but I don’t.”
“In that case we’ll only require a $500 office visit charge. Does the cow have a living will?”
“Well yes, she’s shown a really strong will to keep on living despite her lack of medical care.”
Then the VA says, “The veterinarian will be right in.”
An hour later you finally see the vet, Dr. Mallard (a real quack).
He looks at your cow and says, “We’ll need to send your cow to several specialists. First to a gastroenterologist, who will run a camera up her tailpipe to see if there’s internal damage. Here are several unreadable prescriptions and lab orders for several tests including fecal, blood and urine. We’ll need these to confirm your cow has arrow-in-the-butt syndrome.
Also, here are instructions to the imaging center, that I own part of, for an MRI, CAT scan, x-rays and endoscopy. At some point your cow is going to require the services of another member of my golf foursome, Dr. Sawbones, who owns Shark’s Surgeon group. He’s an extremely average surgeon but happens to be my brother-in-law,” he continues.
Your cow eventually dies on the operating table despite several attempts to revive her with the cowboy defibrillator, a hotshot. On the cow’s death certificate where it says, “Cause of death,” instead of signing his name, Dr. Sawbones writes, “A negative patient outcome was the result of the cow dying of COVID-19.”
For the next two years you receive bills in the mail for things like “laboratory outreach” and “tallow works retrieval”. The final blow arrives from your cow’s insurance company that informs you none of the charges will be covered because it was an “elective surgery.”