Better medicine, better business: The hospitalized pet
This veterinarian shares discrepancies between the basic versus platinum approach when it comes to hospitalizing a pet to ensure the best care is provided.
We have all had a case where a pet isn’t well so we decide with our best judgement that hospitalizing them—even if just for the day—will allow us to diagnose and treat them more thoroughly. Most doctors do not offer overnight hospitalization (thankfully, most areas have access to overnight emergency care for their patients); however, owners often prefer to keep the pet with their veterinarian rather than trust whichever stranger is on call at the emergency clinic.
Many pets can benefit from daily care, except those with the most severe problems. In fact, it can even be beneficial for those with minor issues. Daily hospitalization allows veterinary professionals to take time with the pet and not rush through a quick evaluation, possibly overlooking problems and important diagnostic testing. Additionally, treating the pet throughout the day enables veterinarians to space out their treatment and evaluate the pet with their own eyes for their response.
Basic, typical approach
- Exam: $50
- Blood/urine/fecal test (if hospital can do these): $0-200
- Radiographs, if needed (if time allows, outpatient): $0-200
- Injections, as needed: $30-60
- Dispensed medication: $30-60
- Medical waste disposal: $20
- Total: $130-590
- Exam: $50
- Blood testing (in hospital or sent out): $250-350
- Fecal testing: $40
- Urinalysis: $40
- Radiographs: $200-300
- Electrocardiogram: $50
- Hospitalization (per day): $75
- Tech/nursing care: $35
- Medical waste disposal: $20
- Injectable medications: $40
- *Fluid therapy: $35
- Oral medications: $30
- Force feeding, if needed: $60
- Total: $925-1125
*In my holistic functional medical practice we also employ various herbal and homeopathic injections, plus injectable vitamins, to assist with detoxification, organ/immune support, and cellular enzyme support. This costs an additional $250-350.
The basic approach is quite simple—the pet is “sick” (eg, vomiting, diarrhea, just not well, etc) and needs some type of care. Treating it as an outpatient may be appropriate if the pet has an acute onset of mild symptoms and appears healthy. In general, sicker-looking or -acting pets should be kept for the day for proper evaluation and treatment.
The platinum approach takes the view that a correct diagnosis is important for guiding the proper treatment. Many pets who look “healthy” can become quite ill later in the day, overnight, or over the weekend. Younger and older pets, as well as smaller animals, can dehydrate quickly and lose their normal appetite. Although not every pet requires each item listed under the platinum approach, it serves as a guide to ensure that every base is covered and each patient receives the most appropriate care the owner can afford. Many pets with “mild” symptoms are masking severe underlying diseases of the kidneys, liver, heart and lungs, or GI system (including pancreatitis). Aggressive but appropriate early therapy quickly returns most pets to normal. With a holistic approach to detoxification, I find that with very rare exception my patients are better before discharge in the afternoon or by the next morning. This aggressive and early approach is so successful that if the pet has not responded, referral to a 24-hour hospital is likely necessary. Pets that respond to the first day of treatment but are not fully recovered may need an additional 1 to 3 days of monitoring and treatment.
Choosing the platinum plan offers the best medical care for the patient, reduces noncompliance with oral medications (which may have variable absorption and distribution in a sick pet that likely won’t want to take medicine), and increases practice revenue. Handouts given to the owner reinforce your prescribed diagnostic and treatment plan. Our practice has prepared numerous handouts with our standard diagnostic and treatment plans. The technician assigned to the case gives those to the owner to review before an official treatment plan and costs are presented. This prepares the owner and increases client compliance as they are aware of the actual plan and costs.
Those who are unable or unwilling to accept the platinum choice can always choose the basic plan and then upgrade if or when that plan fails to provide an acceptable resolution. Regardless of the choice of plan, evaluating the pet’s progress is a must to document the case and intervene with additional treatment if needed.
Shawn P. Messonnier, DVM, owns Paws & Claws Holistic Animal Hospital in Plano, Texas, and serves on the dvm360 Editorial Advisory Board. He has written multiple books on marketing as well as holistic veterinary medicine.