Monday, March 28, 2011

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.

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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


catgirl said...

There are some instances in life where it is wise to seek a bargain: hotels, toilet paper, gasoline, some pet meds. BUT...SUURGERY IS NOT ONE OF THEM!!!

Who in their right mind would bargain hunt for surgery for themselves or ANY family member, human or furry??? Sorry, but surgery is not an area of life where it is wise to economize!

pw1974 said...

Agreed, catgirl! Finding a bargain is great, but SURGERY is not the place to be looking to cut costs!

Anonymous said...

That is a very nice looking perating room, and the equipment is very impressive. I work at a local ASPCA that offers discount spays and neuters to pets for the general public - and, therefore, must remain anonymous. The doc is right, that corners are indeed cut in these types of places, just like the doc stated - all of it! We do not have that kind of equipment, nor does our OR even remotely resemble the one I saw on the video.

Part of me understands that in order to provide spays and neuters as cheap as we do, corners need to be cut. What upsets me is that the ASPCA markets the spays and neuters as if they are offering the same service as a general veterinarian, and that is simply NOT the case! People really need to watch and disseminate this video. I am all for low cost spays and neuters as an option, but pet owners should really be informed of what they are really getting for that low cost. If they are okay with that, that's one thing. But if people really knew what they were sacrificing for that low cost, I believe that many would not go the low cost route.

Adele said...

In this economy with a recession that seems never ending and gas prices that are getting worse every day, I understand why people would be attracted to the idea of discount clinics. Trust me when I tell you everyone, I know people that have gone down this route (there is a discount vet chain called Value Vet in my area) and lived to regret it! Some of the stories have been horrific: infections, illness from cheap anesthetic drugs, and death under anesthesia! Pet owners should not choose this area to save money: if Valur Vet is any indication, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

Jules said...

I made the mistake of trying one of those discount clinics the doc speaks of. I did save $150 on the cost of my dog's spay, but ended up paying $300 at an after hours emergency clinic to for the repair after it opened up! Trust me, you get what you pay for!!!

Chuck said...

Here are areas in life where it is wise to seek a good bargain, but I do not think SURGERY is one of them!