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How are you treating Veterinary Dysmorphic Disorder?
Apparently, black is black and white is white only if your brain agrees.
Apparently, black is black and white is white only if your brain agrees. Some folks can look right at black and call it white much to the dismay and bewilderment of onlookers. Some brains just cannot accurately process information.
Folks with body dysmorphic disorder stare at their mirror image and see problems no one else can see. Their attempts at rectifying the "problem" can lead to true disfigurement and yet they are unable to grasp the harm they are causing themselves. Folks with anorexia nervosa can see their skeletal reflection perfectly well but their brain sees only fat. As they continue on their path to starvation, they are unable to understand the damage they are doing to themselves. Pet hoarders can actually look at a pen filled with malnourished, diseased, dying animals and see them as healthy, loving and saved. Their brains can not perceive the misery they are inflicting. Veterinary medicine is not immune to this phenomenon and has its own subspecies of perceptual problems that I call Veterinary Dysmorphic Disorder (VDD).
Everyone knows of a practice that has not changed its fee schedule since the first Bush administration. Everyone knows of a vet who contracts with a tax-supported organization to provide professional services at rates no "for-profit" practice could possibly match (or even approximate). The doctors involved actually believe that they are providing an invaluable service to pet owners whom they mistakenly believe could never afford to pay reasonable veterinary fees in the 0real world. They are unable to perceive the damage they are doing to the veterinary profession and veterinary medical practice in general. Charges which are unnecessarily and unreasonably low prevent practices from collecting the fees necessary to support veterinarians in this century and inhibit advances in veterinary medical practice. Deeply discounted fees significantly lower the pet owner's perceived value of veterinary services as a whole. Pet owners are often thunderstruck when they move and have to change to a vet who charges appropriately for services rendered. The veterinary profession and newly graduated veterinarians are caught between the rising costs of veterinary education, loans and practice and the limits placed on the fee schedule imposed by the altruistic competition of folks with VDD.
Now, the biggest problem is that vets with VDD will not recognize that there is a problem and will be the ones to most vehemently protest this article and defend the absolute necessity of providing low-cost veterinary services. The more advanced the condition, the greater will be the outcry. Before you pick up your pen or crack out your keyboard, give your current fee schedule to a trusted colleague for evaluation. The rolling eyeballs, phony smile and awkward silence will alert you to the possibility of VDD in your practice. Proper diagnosis has always been the first step towards recovery.
Dr. McLaughlin is a small-animal practitioner in Plano, Texas.