The Client’s Perspective

Working in emergency small animal medicine, we ask every client to sign a CPR/DNR form when the patient is admitted to the hospital. For those that do not know it is a consent that if the animal goes into cardiac or respiratory arrest, do they elect euthanasia or that CPR be performed.  This form is a blessing and a curse. It allows us to act on the clients behalf for the pet.  There are times though when it can be a very frustrating document.

Sometimes the owner will become very emotional about this form (especially if the pet is sick), and it can hold up the treatment process. Sometimes, the owner has limited funds for treatment and diagnostics, yet will request CPR. Many times owners do not understand that, unlike in people, statistically only 2-5% of animals that arrest walk out of the hospital.

This morning two of my own fur babies were dropped off for a dental and I had to sign this form. I quickly realized how hard it must be when a pet is sick (especially critically ill suddenly). In an already stressful situation the client is told that their pet could arrest, and by the way do want to euthanize or have CPR performed. Today, I struggled myself with what I wanted to do. In the end, I decided on CPR because they are very healthy and the one time CPR is typically effective is when arrest occurs secondary to anesthesia. My cats made it through their dental unscathed, but I have a new appreciation for the horror that come with filling out the DNR form.

This experience will make me more mindful in the future of how to approach this form in a way that can make the client’s more comfortable. Sometimes it is important to put ourselves in our clients’ shoes in order to evolve our profession and become more empathetic. Time to brainstorm how…

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