In the world of animal health, a positive ending to testing or treatment is always a hopeful priority. One enormous difference between the animal care world and that of human care, is this: sometimes, those seeking the care for those they love are much tougher on the veterinarian than they would be on a surgeon caring for, say, their mother.
“Regardless of our sensitivity, there remains something fundamentally repugnant and insensitive about the merger of money and animal health care, and to my way of thinking, part of the problem lies in the disparity of monetary perception between visiting my doctor and visiting my vet,” animal surgeon Dr. Nick Trout writes in “Tell Me Where It Hurts.”
He points out that we visit our doctor and rarely balk at the fee for a check-up that quite often is perfunctory and vague, a ‘going through the motions’ look. Insurance picks up the sometimes hefty tab if figured on a per-minute basis, with the patient paying a set co-pay. We rarely question our doctor on how much a specific test is going to cost. Likely, the doctor wouldn’t have a clue, anyway, and we might be hard-pressed to find anyone who could answer. If hospitalized, bills will be coming at the patient for months, from behind-the-scene specialists never seen, for items never requested or put to use.
Dr. Trout writes, “Veterinarians are constantly aware of fiscal restraints and accountability, and this demands a logical, methodical and deductive approach to problem solving. There must be substantial gains from every test, whether the result is positive or negative.
Every action will suffer scrutiny and must be justified for the owner, who will feel the financial impact of every test. Better our approach be more considered and less cavalier, more Sherlock Holmes and less an episode of House.”
On farm calls, vets are often called in the case of a birth going bad. Every call is different, but imagine for a moment being in the boots of a large-animal veterinarian. One spouse may be begging the vet to do everything possible to save the mother and the calf or foal, lamb or kid, the “I don’t care what it costs” mentality. What if you were the vet, and the other spouse pulled you aside and said, ‘we can’t afford this – just put ‘er down….’
It is a spot in which few of us would ever want to find ourselves. To know your veterinarian well, to share a mutual respect, is worth its weight in gold. Our kind vet, Dr. Mark Hoverstock, willingly came to our home to examine our aging dog Spanky, to spare the sweet dog an unbearable trip to the clinic.
Veterinarians are there for us in the happy years; they are always willing to steer us through the educated approach, the hopeful tries, the newest options and the reasonable roads. If all hope is gone, a respectful and loving good-bye in a place of comfort is always our ideal wish.
Our vet granted that wish to us, and for that, we are forever grateful.
Be sure to check out the first part to Judy’s column.