Too Many Choices
If you are like many of our clients, you are sometimes frustrated or overwhelmed with too many choices when you visit us. You need to choose which vaccinations your pet will receive, what flea or heartworm preventatives you will use and what tests you want your pet to undergo, whether for wellness screening or because your pet is ill. Before surgery is performed you are asked whether you want a pre-anesthetic ECG, a nail trim, a microchip or laser surgery. As medicine gets more complicated and more choices are available the discomfort about all these options is only going to get worse. Twenty or even ten years ago we didn’t have the knowledge, equipment or medications that we have now. If your Dachshund slipped a disc in his back, the only test available to diagnose which disc had slipped was a myelogram. Now you have to choose between myelogram, CT and MRI. We didn’t have lasers or microchips so you didn’t need to worry about whether you wanted them when you had your dog spayed. Bench top chemistry machines weren’t available, so we did
a lot less blood testing – now some of these units are so small that they don’t need a bench,
you can hold them in your hand. As more technology became available, not only did we have more choices but the standard of care became increasingly more complicated. It is now standard for patients to be on IV fluids during surgery and for declaws in cats to be done with a laser. That means that if your pet dies under anesthesia or has complications after declaw surgery, and IV fluids or laser were not used, under a new Wisconsin law the veterinarian is liable in a malpractice suit if he or she did not offer them to you. Every year the bar gets a little higher and the world
of veterinary medicine gets a bit more complex – and costly Last fall the state of Wisconsin passed an informed consent bill regarding veterinary care. Since November 1st 2008 statute VE 7.06 has read: Unprofessional conduct. Unprofessional conduct by a veterinarian is prohibited. Unprofessional conduct includes: (23) Failure to inform a client prior to treatment of the diagnostic and treatment options consistent with the veterinary profession’s standard of care and the associated benefits and risks of those options. VE 7.01 Definitions defines “standard of care” as
“diagnostic procedures and modes of treatment considered by the veterinary profession to be within the scope of current, acceptable veterinary medical practice.” The intent of this legislation is to inform and protect you, as the consumer of veterinary services. You have the legal right to understand all the options available to you and to know the benefits and drawbacks of each one. It has long been my philosophy that if your pet dies from a disease for which I had a preventative or a treatment that I never told you about, that pet’s death becomes my fault. Now this has become the rule in my profession. If the pet might be better served by seeing a specialist and you aren’t referred to one, that’s no longer OK. If your dog or cat dies under anesthesia from an undiagnosed heart condition and I didn’t offer you the pre-anesthetic ECG screen to look for evidence of heart
disease, I am at fault.
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