Is the gold standard the old standard?

May 10, 2016

What happens when the highest level of care just isn't an option for most of the clients you serve? Answers from the dvm360 Spectrum of Care survey point to a new world order: The days of providing nothing less than the gold standard might be numbered.

(Getty Images)In an ideal world, pet owners would say, “Yes!” to whatever it took to keep their pets healthy. You would recommend the gold standard of care for every condition you diagnose and every preventive step. But that's not reality. So, how do you adjust care to varying levels of financial means and pet owner commitment? (For your own sanity, keep in mind the wise words of one associate's boss: “You can't care more than the client does.”)

With medical and technological advances taking place every day in terms of diagnosis and treatment-some of which are more costly than the older options-are we pricing people out of owning pets?

In the dvm360 Spectrum of Care survey, we asked you: Do you think the increased opportunity to provide high-quality veterinary medical care is putting pet ownership out of financial reach for average middle class people? Your response:

When asked to elaborate, here's what you said:

“I consider mine as an average middle class family and know the estimates I give clients would significantly impact my quality of life if I was to spend the money.”

"I couldn't afford our clinic's prices for veterinary care for all of my animals without the clinic discount. I'm priced out of my own services, even though I believe they are exceptional and necessary."

"My clients are shaping my answer. And no, they don't stop owning animals-they just stop seeking care from 'greedy veterinarians who want to sell them everything under the sun.'"

"All day every day I have clients asking about price of procedures whether over the phone or during an exam. I've had many clients say that they'll just get a new dog instead of fixing their current dog."

"The majority of my clients have no interest in pursuing advanced care or are unwilling to prioritize that care, they want some medication and a quick fix. At the same time I find it increasingly difficult not to offer the ‘gold standard' care for fear of risk to my license or under-serving the client."

We want to help! In the links below, we explore these intricate issues in three specific conditions: separation anxiety, periodontal disease and cranial crucitate ligament rupture. Our board-certified practitioners explain the common spectrum of care, while in-the-trenches practice owners and associates offer some of their thoughts about the day-to-day struggles of matching their abilities, their clients' money and their patients' needs in private practice. Plus, we peppered in exclusive data and responses from the dvm360 Spectrum of Care survey-because it's your world, doc, we're just living in it.

Separation anxiety: The worry over worry

The periodontal conundrum: "Sorry doc, not doing that treatment."

Critical decisions in cranial cruciate ligament repair