Monday, August 3, 2009

An Open Letter to Veterinarians, By a Veterinarian

"The Growing Problem of Clients Who Cannot Afford Emergency Care"

After about 10 years working in emergency hospitals, it became painfully clear that, the more advanced our ability to provide adequate care became, the less the average person was able to afford it. In our recent economic downturn, it has become a real crisis. With the widespread use of specialized emergency and critical care hospitals for overnight, weekend, and holiday coverage for general practitioners, clients and their sick and injured pets are frequently caught in a desperate situation. They find themselves in the midst of a medical emergency, in a hospital where there is no ongoing relationship with the doctor providing the care, and faced with charges that are likely to be much higher than they are accustomed to, not to mention the requirement of immediate paymentFew would disagree that state-of-the art veterinary care should be available and easily accessible. It also goes without saying that facilities that provide this level of care must charge more for their services than practices with lower overhead. However, often we are dealing with owners who have chosen a particular emergency facility simply because their own vet is using it to cover emergency calls. Suddenly, they are faced with charges that could easily be three or four times when their normal vet would charge. There are some ethical questions, here. Should an emergency hospital that offers round-the-clock care, sophisticated critical care monitoring, and advanced surgical and medical treatment, be willing to offer care that is less than state-of-the-art, simply because an owner cannot afford it? Is it right to turn someone away and risk the animal's death, because they do not have enough to pay for treatment? As veterinarians, where do our allegiances lie?--to the owner and their emotional and financial needs; or to the animal and its comfort and general welfare? What about our own financial needs? It helps no one if veterinarians give so much of their services away that they go out of business. Nor does it help if we give away so much of our time and energy that we burn ourselves out and either lose our compassion or leave the profession.I would really like to get a dialog started about this important issue. My husband and I are trying to build up an organization that will help find funding for people who cannot afford emergency care. It is called The Veterinary Emergency Funding Mission. Other similar organizations have fallen short because they have depended only on the generosity of individuals. I think that this issue is far too important not to get the backing of veterinarians and local communities around the country. Perhaps an internet dialog will get the word out and start people thinking about how to make change happen.

Lucy L. (Pinkston) Schroth DVM - President & Co-Founder of The Veterinary Emergency Funding Mission (blog - )(

"Help me to help financially strapped owners pay for emergency vet care."

"Together, the veterinary community can make a BIG difference."


No comments:

My Favorite Facebook Page! I am SUCH a Fan (I'm also their mascot!)

I try not to discriminate against a species that is "less fortunate" than mine.