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The Myth of Discount Veterinary Surgery

Transcript from this week’s episode of The Web-DVM:

The Myth of Discount Veterinary Surgery

Greetings, pet lovers, this is Dr. Roger Welton, veterinarian and Veterinary News Network Reporter.

Most pet owners have heard of these so called veterinary clinics, offering discounted spays, neuters and other surgical procedures at very low prices when compared to general practices. In the midst of recent economic difficulties amid the Great Recession, they have capitalized on people’s financial distress, stepping up their promotion of veterinary surgery at rock bottom prices, claiming that the quality is on par with any general practice. This could not be further from the truth.

I invite you for a brief tour of my operating room, where I will highlight important aspects of safe anesthesia and surgery. I will then return to explain how this contrasts with the methods of discount clinics. While watching this, always bear in mind that anesthesia is the controlled administration of potentially lethal drugs for the purpose of surgery. Given their very real lethal potential, we must engage in the best possible monitoring to ensure optimal safety for our patients…

(See video for operating room tour)

…So, how does all this differ from discount veterinary clinics? Given their rock bottom pricing to attract more customers, they are unlikely going to have a SurgiVet monitoring device, nor a therapy laser. To cut costs, many discount clinic veterinarians do not change their surgical gowns between patients or re-scrub their hands, while some do not not even wear a surgical gown to begin with. Some discount clinics do not even provide each patient with a fresh surgical pack, using one pack with the same instruments for multiple patients. Cleaning and re-sterilizing instruments and gowns costs money, money they are not willing to spend for the sake of discounting their services to maximize the quantity of patients they see, at the expense of the quality of their services. Likewise, IV catheters are often not placed for surgery and fluids are not routinely administered during each procedure, as these actions also increase the cost.

As is the case with most things in life, when it comes to safe anesthesia and surgery, you usually get what you pay for. If you are the type of owner that wants to price shop when considering a given procedure for your pet, even spays and neuters, make certain to really have a thorough look at what your are getting for the price. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, and that is not a chance worth taking with the life of your beloved furry family member.

This is Roger Welton reporting, for The Web-DVM.

Don’t forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:

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Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

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