AVMA criticizes TV veterinarian for lousy surgical hygiene

February 2, 2017
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for dvm360.com, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

Footage of Animal Planets Jeff Young, DVM, performing surgery with bare arms, no gown and no mask is "getting in the way of his message" of the importance of high-quality, high-volume veterinary care, say AVMA president and CEO.

Screenshot from a website clip of an episode of Animal Planet's Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet.Remember the battle over standards of care demonstrated by Jan Pol, DVM, in Nat Geo Wild's TV show The Incredible Dr. Pol? If you don't, here's your refresher.

Seems there's a new TV veterinarian in town, and he may want in on the action-and maybe the controversy.

The AVMA fired off a letter Jan. 26 from its president, Tom Meyer, DVM, and its CEO, Janet Donlin, DVM, MBA, to Animal Planet. In it, Meyer and Donlin express concern about medical protocols shown in the cable channel's show Dr. Jeff: Rocky Mountain Vet.

Veterinarians have complained to the association, says the letter, about images and video from a clip titled "Dr. Jeff's First Surgery in the New Clinic" (click to see the video) that seems to show Jeff Young, DVM, performing surgery with "no mask, no gown, a clipboard with paper and pens passed over a surgical site, and surgical table surrounded by others not wearing protective gear."

While the show's website lauds Young for "helping animals when no one else will," the AVMA letter reminds the channel and its company, Discovery Communications, that "it is very possible to provide quality care at a reasonable cost without abandoning generally accepted good patient care practices."

"Maintaining minimum sanitary conditions during surgery ... does not add significantly to the time or cost involved with performing surgical procedures," says the AVMA. "Surgery is invasive. Exposed tissues present risks for both the patient and the surgical staff."

Facebook users in one veterinary group have also been commenting on the images and video:

"As an orthopedic surgeon, I'm appalled ... The sheer amount of skin cells he is shedding into that wound ... makes me sick to my stomach."

"I know the goal is to cut costs, but not at the risk of the patient!"

"This is the result of the need to look cool on TV becoming more important than taking care of the patient."

Click here for a PDF of the AVMA's letter. The AVMA has also posted a blog on the subject on its AVMA@Work site.

Neither Discovery Communications nor Young had responded to requests for comment by press time.