As veterinarians, we are concerned with the increasing corporatism of our profession, accompanied by rising costs, inflexible standardized care and the documented fact that the cost of services are becoming less affordable for a growing percentage of our population.
Veterinary Medicine is at a crossroads. We can now provide diagnostics and care that would have seemed amazing just a decade ago. Our profession is also becoming more specialized and is rapidly adopting the organizational patterns common in health care for humans. But this comes at a cost. Excessively itemized bills that count every sponge or needle, referrals for what used to be common procedures, long wait times to even get an appointment, recommendations for leg amputation if the cost of repairing a broken leg is too high, or “euthanasia” if the amputation cost is too high. And don’t forget the waste. Even a small clinic, ours included, produces mountains of garbage as a by-product. Syringe cases, needles, vaccine vials, gloves, glossy pharmaceutical company propaganda, etc.
We don’t have all the answers but we care very much about the problem and are continually looking for ways to improve. We try to minimize waste where we can, both in terms of garbage and finances. We don’t practice “shotgun” medicine by ordering tests and procedures unlikely to help. It is more sophisticated medicine and it is less wasteful, both of resources and our clients’ hard earned money. And, as we can, we adopt newer more eco-friendly technology, such as Aquamation, to reduce the environmental impact of our services.
We continually work to provide the highest level of care, as well, we recognize the need for flexibility. Compassion must be extended, not only to our patients, but also to our clients. If the cost of an uncompromising "gold standard" of care results in the euthanasia or medical neglect of an otherwise treatable pet, what does that say about our profession?