2001-Sat Dec 10 09:48:30 EST 2016
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People who work in veterinary medicine aren’t hard to understand. We’re motivated primarily by two things:
These “drives” are good —
they mean we’re in this business for the right reasons. The problem, though, is
that sometimes the time, energy, stress and money required to achieve our goals
(to get the “right” diagnosis and provide the “gold standard” of care) may go
beyond what pet owners wish for or are able to invest in when they are faced with health care situations with their pets. As with all things, pet health care is
subject to financial realities and other considerations — and the reality is, you
can’t always give a pet every single one of the latest and greatest treatments.
Making a plan to deal with a pet’s health care issues means
making choices. And if you’ve got to make a choice, you may as well fully
understand your options. To ensure you have all the facts, you
can do your part by asking your veterinarian these five questions:
As I mentioned, veterinarians are trained to find answers. We tend to believe that knowledge is power and that information by
itself is valuable. (Often this is true, but sometimes it’s not.) As a result, we frequently recommend additional tests or diagnostic options.
If a test doesn’t change the course of treatment or the prognosis,
is it still worth doing? For example, let’s say we have a patient with cancer. If
there were a test or procedure that would let us know whether we could expect
the pet to live for only a month or for six months more, but it would not affect
how we treated the patient, would you agree to it? What if it was very
I don’t think there’s a wrong answer to this
question. I also don’t think veterinarians are wrong to recommend tests that
provide more information without necessarily affecting treatment. Everyone
approaches these situations a little differently, and veterinarians are in search of knowledge. That’s why asking, “What will we do with this information?”
is important to help you as a pet owner make an empowered, informed
Information is great, but understanding what you and
your vet are going to do with the
information is more important. There’s nothing wrong with asking your vet to
explain, step by step, what the plan is. Asking for next steps is a great way
to get peace of mind and a grip on how to move forward.
It is the job of a veterinarian to make recommendations
about your pet’s health. Sometimes what a vet recommends is not feasible,
affordable or ideal for your specific situation or perspective. That’s OK.
When your veterinarian makes a recommendation about treating
your pet, it’s never wrong to ask what your other options are. The important
thing you need to understand is the differences among options when your veterinarian lays them out for you. That’s why,
whenever you ask this question, you must also ask…
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