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Emergency Clinics Client perspective

Posted By: middleofnowhere

Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 01/17/18 09:35 AM

I'd like a discussion here on emergency vets why their charges are justified why they are more than the "regular" vet, etc.

1. Their charges may seem like a lot but consider - they have no regular, reliable client base. No one makes appointments. They may see several dogs a night, they may see very few dogs a night. They are there, the doors, while in my experience locked, in the other sense they are "open" when no one else is. They still pay utilities, rent, staff salaries regardless. They do not do routine wellness exams, trim nails. They are up all night.

2. They are often equipped to better deal with emergency situations (bloat, wrecks) than perhaps your regular vet
They may have equipment that your regular vet doesn't have.

3. They are there when your vet is sleeping, unreachable, out of town, etc.

Downside -
1. Level of expertise depends on who is on duty that night. You may get the gastro specialist when you need the trauma specialist or vise versa. Or you may get the all around best vet for whatever you need.
2. $ See the above. Yup. They usually cost more - probably 3x what a regular vet charges.
3. They may not be as close as your regular vet. The one here is 40 miles away. Or they may be closer - in Arkansas, they were probably 5 to 15 miles closer than my regular vet.
4. You may not have one. (In which case in my experience, the local vets rotate who is on call. - think Wyoming.) In this case, you may get the vet you would not choose to see.

So to me, No they are not trying to rip you off - they are providing a service when you need it, when it might save your animal's life. The judgement may not be perfect, they do not know your animal as your primary vet does. But they are not trying to take advantage of you. They are trying to provide the service you need when you need it.

Other thoughts?
Posted By: SeanRescueMom

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 01/17/18 02:18 PM

We have been to our local emergency veterinary clinic on several occasions with Sean and several different cats. Fortunately we have always had a good experience with knowledgeable and caring vets. I wrote down the name of one vet in particular who I really liked in case we had to make an unexpected return. We are also fortunate because the emergency clinic is adjacent to the vet specialty center affiliated with a university veterinary medical school. Since Sean saw several of the specialists at the vet specialty center his records were accessible to the emergency clinic.

I have also called to ask questions when I wasn't sure whether to come in or wait until morning when my vet would be open, as well as advice about a particular situation. I feel exceptionally lucky because the emergency clinic is approx. a 15-20 minute drive from our house.

Yes, the fees are expensive but having peace of mind that your dog, (or other pet), can receive good, quality medical care when your regular vet is closed is definitely worth it to me.
Posted By: Codmaster

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 01/17/18 05:23 PM

good explanation - agreed! Expensive but worth it when one needs their services!
Posted By: DarkEyes

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 01/18/18 02:06 AM

I was unfortunate enough to have to use an emergency care clinic back in 2016. Expensive, but worth it. This is why we have a savings account for emergencies. Soon as we use it for an emergency, we work hard to replenish it.

The emergency clinic took very good care of Abbey. I would not hesitate to take her back there again if our regular was unable to care for her.
Posted By: Selzer

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 01/18/18 06:52 AM

I understand that they have to pay the vet whether the vet has any clients or not. So, because he is there, and the vet tech, and they gal behind the desk -- all have to be paid, whether there is work or not. So yes, it is going to be more expensive.

And turn-over. The ER that is 40 miles away, I have been to maybe a dozen times in 20 years. I have never seen the same person twice.

I called the 24 hour clinic (2+ hours away) and the ER when Karma was poisoned. The 24 hour clinic said I should go to the nearer place, but they told me what they would do. My dad convinced me to go to the nearer place, the ER. What a mistake. I called to let them know what I was bringing in. I called the other place to let them know I was not coming.

With only one other car in the parking lot, it took a solid hour for them to come and say boo to us. They did nothing but weigh the remaining poison, tell me it could be a toxic dose, and gave me some vitamin K pills and said, I could have waited until Monday. No bloodwork or anything the other place was going to do. But the dog lived. So maybe, whatever.

I like the 24 hour clinic better because they have excellent vets, specialists, and will call them in. I have seen them more than once. I have watched them perform surgeries on my dogs. I trust them. They have a lab, an ultra-sound, x-ray, etc -- some of which the ER does not have. They do not automatically think, Pyo when you bring in an intact bitch for anything.

Most of what I would trust the ER to do, I can do myself. Bloat is the one thing I can't manage on my own. But that doesn't mean I trust them. I don't. And yet, minutes count with bloat. If I catch it, I don't know if I have any choice, but to go there.
Posted By: MaxaLisa

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 02/03/18 02:35 PM

I think you need to know your clinic.

We have a specialty clinic in town and they are geared up to handle emergencies, for the most part, and they can call in specialists if needed. After having some experience with other clinics also, this would be my first choice. It is also where Jazz's internal medicine vet is, so they know her, kinda, and that is a good thing. And yep, very expensive.

The regular vet clinic that I have gone to forever opened up 24 hour service many years ago. I took Indy there when she got sick. It was terrible. The vet was inexperienced and diagnosed her fatal condition with bordatella. I even knew it wasn't bordatella, but it was a young vet, probably pretty fresh out of vet school delegated to work night shifts. The lesson I learned is be careful of 24 hour clinics that want to pretend to be emergency clinics. Great place to get a wound treated or something straight forward, but not someplace to go where I would want experienced (and competent)eyes. For example, unless I knew the vet on call, no way would I go there for a ruptured spleen after hours. Nowadays, being a clinic that is not managed well with high turnover, I would hesitate to go there for something major during regular hours unless I knew the vets that would be working on my dog (they do have some good vets, including jazz's vet chiro).

Third option we have is the university ER center (UC Davis). They also were terrible. You lose all say in your dogs treatment and they have a student on call that is also not that experienced (but things they are), and you are locked into treatment in which you really have no say. When I took Indy there, it was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, they were rude and it was clear they didn't have the experience to deal with her. When I told my regular vet about some of the things I experienced, she said that she has heard similar things from other clients and she was not going to recommend them any more. They are a university teaching hospital and it's really sad that what should be a valuable resource is not.

So, know your clinics, know the reputations of the ones that you have access to.

Middle, I hope your question wasn't prompted by an incident with your own dog - hope that all is well!
Posted By: Selzer

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 02/03/18 11:28 PM

The 24 hour clinic is so far away that I really only go there for c-sections and some x-rays. But they are competent. I have sent a lady who called me who had an ER tell her her bitch had pyo. I listened to the symptoms and thought, no way. I sent her to the 24 hour clinic with repro-specialists, and they saved her reproductive system -- the other vet wanted to perform an emergency spay. But the dog did not have pyo.

Unfortunately, I am pretty much in a lurch because of the distance.
Posted By: MaxaLisa

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 02/04/18 12:55 AM

Yeah, sometimes we are just limited by circumstances and we have to do the best we can with what we have!
Posted By: middleofnowhere

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 02/04/18 05:21 AM

Lisa, all's well here. I just felt they were often maligned unfairly and wanted a discussion. A few years back I had one vet tell me in confidence that it depended very much who was on duty as to whether or not she would take her dog to either of the two local ones. Another vet that I trust equally, said that she found them more equipped to deal with emergencies that a regular vets office because that's what they do most of. I've used them when a dog needed 24 hour care after a surgery, I've used one in a case of bloat. I got the "right" straw when I needed it. I also hauled a dog in that was not acting right. I may have related the story here about paying so the dog to urinate in their office... It WAS funny because we walked in, I signed in, she peed and felt better immediately........
Posted By: MaxaLisa

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 02/04/18 05:35 PM

Glad all is well! You may have mentioned about that pee incident, but I didn't remember. That's pretty funny smile

Yeah, what your vet said sounds about right. I'm glad that you've had good luck. Most of my real emergencies have luckily occured during regular hours.
Posted By: Kris

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 02/05/18 12:00 AM

I live within 15 minutes of two 24 hour emergency clinics. Both are also regular veterinary practices. I go to the one because they always have a surgeon on duty and the other doesn't. I do realize they have to pay salaries, utilities, etc. for a 24 hour clinic. And yes, when you need them, it doesn't matter the cost. However... Sammy had surgery to remove a tumor last year. He started bleeding pretty badly when I got him home. My vet office is not staffed 24 hours, so I headed to the emergency clinic. My vet charged $463 for the surgery and $163 of that was for the biopsy. The emergency vet charged me $1,100 to watch him for the night. They gave no meds, no fluids - just kept an eye on him. I'm sure there was staff time involved, but as far as any other services, there were none. My vet had already dispensed meds - antibiotic and pain. This clinic charged me $300 for the same. I did request that they use the meds I brought with me and they agreed, so they lowered it to just over $900. Absolutely no reason to charge that for very common meds, so that's where they really get you. This is a very high tech clinic, so I have peace of mind that anything that happens, they could handle - and it's going to cost me big time. They do use the new docs on the night shift. I think that's their normal hours, so I doubt that they get any kind of premium pay. No different than shifts at any other job. But I must say, I couldn't be more happy that they are there. Like the rest of you, when you have an emergency, that peace of mind is priceless.

On the flip side, when we had to put out 21 year old kitty down, it was of course, at night. We went to the e-clinic and they were incredible. Very caring and they gave us priority service. Their prices are less than my vet, who happens to be one of the most reasonable in the area.
Posted By: Cassidy's Mom

Re: Emergency Clinics Client perspective - 02/08/18 04:32 PM

I have nothing but good things to say about our local emergency clinic. It's a regular veterinary practice with specialists as well as offering emergency services. When Keefer bloated around 8 PM on a Sunday night last August, we rushed him there, I walked up to the counter and said I thought it was bloat, and they called back for someone to come up to the lobby and get him immediately. They asked his name, his age, any medications, then whisked him back for an exam. They did x-rays and put him on fluids, confirmed it was bloat with 180 degree torsion and gave us our options. They thought based on his normal lactate level that we caught it early enough that he had a good chance of surviving. Elevated lactate would indicate tissue damage. We opted to do the surgery.

They had a surgical team on call who were fortunately available, so they estimated he'd be on the table by 10 PM, and that we'd get an update around midnight. Since we lived so close we decided to go home and wait for the call. We heard from her at 11:30 that everything went well. The surgeon also had a GSD, which was nice. It was very expensive, but I have no regrets. Even at nearly 12 (he bloated 5 days before his birthday), he bounced right back from the surgery and is doing very well. They saved his life.
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