Every once in a while we are greeted by a client without their pet but holding a paper bag, a Tupperware container or a piece of foil. The client hands the “sample” to our receptionist, the receptionist hands the “sample” to me and I hand the “sample” to my technician. Initially, we are curious as to the nature of the contents. Should we open the container outside? Most of the time the answer is yes.
It is understood that we are sometimes expected to make a diagnosis based simply on the evidence our well meaning client has presented. So, we examine it, stain it, float it, dip it and spin it. We, then, take the results and analyze them, interpret them and research them before explaining to our client that the results are inconclusive and that we will need to see their pet after all.
Veterinarians are trained to physically examine the patient, run the necessary tests, diagnose the problem and treat accordingly.
Sometimes we are able to run every test and prescribe any treatment. Other times, we must customize this process to the affordability of our client. There is no wrong or right, just a shift in expectations of success.
The most important thing for us in the diagnosis process is the physical examination of a pet. We might live without X-rays, lab work, Ultrasounds, MRI’s and CAT scans, but we must see the patient.
Granted we have a much better chance of getting things right when we are allowed to run such tests, but veterinarians, through experience, have developed an ability to “play the odds”. We recognize breed tendencies, age related illness propensities or seasonal conditions, for example, that can lend itself to a successful diagnosis. Sometimes we will initiate a treatment that will help us with our diagnosis.
You can still bring in your Tupperware container with a specimen, just remember to bring the patient.
PS. – I always ask if they want their container back………they never do!