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Solving Common Health Industry Complaints

Posted November 20, 2014 in A Vet's Life

Veterinary waiting room

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (

Kelly Serfas, a Certified Veterinary Technician in Bethlehem, PA, contributed to this article.

In 2013, Consumer Reports magazine surveyed 1,000 people about their doctors. The intention was to identify and rate the most common client complaints. Having recently come across the article, I felt compelled to examine a few of these concerns from a veterinarian’s point of view. If you find yourself nodding in agreement with any of these statements when you visit the veterinarian, it’s important that you bring them up. Remember, a stronger bond with your pet’s doctor will probably mean a healthier pet.

I’m often unclear on an explanation of a problem
How well you understand your veterinarian will likely depend on the individual communication style. Some family veterinarians and specialists are very good at using everyday words and simplifying things so you can understand. Others may need to be asked if they can simplify.

  • What should you do? If you do not understand something, don’t be shy or embarrassed, and please ask questions until you get it. Your pet’s health is at stake here!

Test results are not communicated fast enough
Some veterinarians will call personally with test results, especially positive test results. Sometimes, when results are straight-forward or negative, they may ask a technician to call you. That said, please keep in mind that some tests take time to perform — sometimes up to a week if not two.

  • What should you do? Ask when you should expect your test results and write the date on your calendar. If it is time and you have not heard from your veterinarian, simply call to inquire.

Billing disputes are hard to resolve
This is hopefully less commonly an issue in veterinary medicine, because human medical billing (which is notoriously nebulous) goes not only through your doctor’s office but also your insurance company. That’s not to say pets shouldn’t have insurance too., but it tends to be less complicated. Click here to learn why ensuring your pet is so important.

  • What should you do? You have the right to ask for a detailed estimate (before services are rendered) and a detailed invoice (after treatment has been provided). If you have a concern, have someone go over each item

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at, and follow him at

Opinions expressed are those of the writer:

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.