Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Blog the Change - "Unnecessary" vet visits
When ever you talk about cat health, inevitably the conversation turns to cats at the vets.. how much they don't want to go, how badly they react, etc.
Eventually someone will add how vets run too many unnecessary tests and seem to be all about the money. This generally leads to talk about price gouging on medications and extreme prices at emergency clinics and how cold and callous they are to 'let a pet die' instead of helping them out.
I have darn good reason to distrust vets, I have seen too much, learned too much, and had too much happen. I am currently very bitter about the whole thing, but even with all of that, I still want you to know that it is VITAL that not only you have a good vet, but you have a good relationship with one.
The only way to have a good relationship with a vet is to be a good customer. Visit them regularly, and understand that they want you to be happy with them and their service. The more you partake of their services the more likely they are to go out of their way when something happens. A client that visits regularly that they have a history of dealing with is going to have more leeway in paying a bill than someone who just walks through the door the first time. And the more often the vet sees your pet, the more s/he will know about your pet and will be better able to diagnose what might be going on.
The only unnecessary test is the one that will not make a bit of difference in the change of treatment. If you walk into a vet's office to remove a tick and they want to take an x-ray, that is unnecessary. If you walk into the vet's office because the cat is urinating outside of the box an x-ray might seem unnecessary, but your cat might have stones that makes it uncomfortable to urinate. Blood work might also seem unnecessary, but it can be necessary to see if there is an issue with the kidneys or liver. If money is an issue, ask the vet what the test is going to determine, and what the change in the treatment would be if you do it. Tell the vet that money is a concern, and they can often work with you, as long as you are willing to work with them. If you walk in the door saying your pet simply isn't doing well and you refuse blood work and x-rays, there isn't much they are going to be able to do.
People often complain about the nearly prohibitive costs of emergency clinics. They forget everything that is necessary to keep them open. Very few people want to work over night and holidays. The only way to ensure you have enough staff to man an emergency clinic to be open during all of those times when your vet is not open is to pay them well. You need to have an incentive. Then there is the cost of the building, the lights, the x-ray machine, the blood work machine, all of the medications that are necessary to have on hand, all of the instruments and accouterments to run a surgical suite. The cages, the food, the bedding, the laundry facilities, etc and finally add in the fact that you do not have regular clients and have to rely on those emergencies for all of your income.
Yes, it can be so very hard on the pet parent when they walk through the door with a sick or injured animal and they are refused service due to the inability to pay. Every time I hear a story about the heartlessness of the e-clinics in these situations, I know full well why they are this way. Too many times vets try to help, and are burned for it. They absolutely can not afford to treat every animal where the person 'cannot' pay (and how many people say they cannot pay but end up finding a way - they were just hoping for a lower bill) and if they gave in and treated an animal for each owner that couldn't, they would soon be out of business and the rest of us would be with out help when we needed help.
So show your vet some love. You don't have to agree with everything they say or do, you do employ them and if you don't like the way treatment is going it is your right to stand up for your pet and yourself, but if you find a vet you can work with, be glad, and remember with each bill you pay you ensure they will remain in business and will be there the next time you need them.