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You get what you pay for – pet health care is no exception

Transcript of personal comment of this episode of The Web-DVM:

In my personal comment today, I want to touch on a recent clearly evident shift in veterinary medicine, where we are finding ourselves increasingly less involved in preventive health care, with the paradigm having moved to where sick patients are representing a much greater percentage of our overall caseload. In a still troubling economic climate, many pet owners have either foregone preventive health care altogether, or have chosen to go to so called discount clinics, where they can get spays, neuters, and vaccines at bargain basement prices.

It is the latter that I want to focus on today, where health care is just like anything else: you usually get what you pay for. With regard to vaccines, inside anonymous sources have indicated that many of these discount clinics do not select their vaccines based on their being the best and safest, but instead coerce the veterinary pharmaceuticals into bidding wars, where the lowest bidder wins their account. As one may expect, the lowest bidder often tends to be a company that has a less than stellar track records with vaccine effectiveness, quality control, and safety.

Regarding spays and neuters, I have been informed by former staff of some of these places, that they save money by using one surgical instrument pack for multiple patients, rather than have a freshly cleaned, sterilized pack for each individual patient. I have been informed that they use outdated and less tolerated anesthetics and stitching materials because they are cheap, do not utilize the best quality and safest pain management medications, or even forgo pain medication altogether.

Finally, because the doctors of these clinics work with such volume, there are reports that some do not take the time to scrub between surgeries, nor cap, mask, or gown for each surgery, opting instead to simply change gloves.

I can clearly sympathize with people wishing to save money wherever they can in these trying economic times, but if you consider your pet a cherished family member as most of our subscribers and viewers do, saving by utilizing discount spay/neuter/vaccine clinics may not be the best place to save a buck.
Reputable full service veterinary clinics do not skimp on anesthetics, suture materials, advanced monitoring equipment, and quality vaccines. We utilize the gold standard pain management protocols and medicines, have a freshly sterilized surgical pack for each individual patient, and scrub, cap, mask, and gown for each surgery.
For me, compromising this standard of care to slash costs in order to get greater volume in my practice is not worth the price that my patients could pay, and the degree to which my conscience would suffer.

So I caution that the next time you may consider using a discount spay/neuter/vaccine clinic, that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Good medicine costs more, and for me, good medicine is not negotiable.

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