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Old 04-21-2012, 11:03 AM
 
Location: Manhattan, Ks
1,280 posts, read 6,813,438 times
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http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=22351

Editor’s note: There's a common public perception that veterinary care is overpriced and that many veterinarians get rich at the expense of pets and their owners. Dr. Marie Haynes addresses that concern through a sympathetic, humorous and informative account from her experience as a companion-animal practitioner in Ottawa, Ontario.
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Old 04-21-2012, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Near Nashville TN
7,201 posts, read 14,040,790 times
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I can understand the costs. Anyone can who worked in an Animal Hospital. It is sad that animals have to die because their owners can't pay.
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Old 04-21-2012, 03:08 PM
 
3,244 posts, read 7,153,627 times
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Well, my last dog had a stage-6 heart murmur (I know, in people it only goes to 4). Been in the medical community for 17 years, so I know my way around a hospital.

Took the dog to a local specialist veterinary clinic, where they assigned a cardiologist, neurologist, hematologist and GP.

The first thing they wanted to do was a cardiac MRI, for $3,000. When I stated I could get one on myself, a human, (worked on designing MRI's for a few years) for about $1,200, that sort of ended it for me.

Money making machines are what a lot of vet facilities are.

Took my dog into work (had to do it on a weekend, so people wouldn't freak out), and did a cardiac ultrasound on him, myself. Awful mitral regurg. Only a couple of solutions to that problem, and I was not about to have my little dog's chest cracked...

So to summarize, the dog lasted another 5 years, I gave him good meds (Lisinopril, Furosemide, etc) and it cost, based on my estimates, about $8,000 less than using the 'specialists'.

I understand that becoming a vet is really hard (potentially harder than an MD for people), but I fail to see why I can't get out of the vet's office for less than $250.
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Old 04-21-2012, 04:50 PM
 
Location: Floyd Co, VA
3,513 posts, read 6,062,506 times
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My one gripe with my vet is the ridiculous charges for most meds. My dog is on Soloxine for her thyroid and the vet wants $27.50 for a one month supply.

I said no and asked for a 'scrip that I sent in to Drs. Foster and Smith and got 500, an 8.3 month supply for $70.00. Had I gotten them from my vet it would have been $228.25 for the same amount.

If she's willing to write a scrip for more than a one month supply why won't she dispense a similar quantity at her office rather than once a month. Of the $27.50 she charges, $15.00 is the dispensing fee and only $12.50 is for the actual meds.

Makes no business sense to me.
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:27 AM
 
9,684 posts, read 17,248,861 times
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Don't you know? Vets aren't allowed to make a profit. If they do, it means they are just in it for the money.

I'm not sure HOW they are supposed to live, how they are supposed to feed themselves, their families, and all the animals they take in because no one else will, how they are supposed to keep a roof over their heads and pay for the car they need to come out in the middle of the night to attend to someone's emergency, which, as often as not is something that has been left for weeks, until at 3 a.m the irresponsible owner decides the pet will die if he has to wait one more hour, even though he's been suffering for weeks.

They don't need to pay off their vet school loans, or pay for the continuing education courses they take to keep themselves up to date on the ever changing and always advancing veterinary field, education and knowledge for which our pets can only benefit.

No, no, vets are magical beings who should offer their services for free to whomever claims they can't afford to pay. They should never try to educate the pet owners on disease and vaccinations, lest they be accused of pushing unnecessary injections. If they do manage to coerce some unsuspecting pet owner into agreeing to these things, they should at the very least give the vaccine at what it cost the vet. NOT adding in the shipping, storage, paperwork, wages, and other overhead that goes along with providing that service...I mean coercion.

Vets make a living? Why should they? They became vets for love of animals didn't they? So they are doing what they love. That should be enough for them.

PS that's a good article. I like Dr Marie.

Last edited by catsmom21; 04-23-2012 at 07:49 AM..
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:15 PM
 
Location: Manhattan, Ks
1,280 posts, read 6,813,438 times
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Well, my last dog had a stage-6 heart murmur (I know, in people it only goes to 4). Been in the medical community for 17 years, so I know my way around a hospital.

Your dog had a heart murmur you could hear without a stethoscope? That's impressive!

Took the dog to a local specialist veterinary clinic, where they assigned a cardiologist, neurologist, hematologist and GP.

I'm curious why the neurologist (or anybody but the cardiologist actually). Was he having syncopal episodes?


The first thing they wanted to do was a cardiac MRI, for $3,000. When I stated I could get one on myself, a human, (worked on designing MRI's for a few years) for about $1,200, that sort of ended it for me.

We would never recommend that without an echo first where I work. Would the $1,200 be with or without insurance?

Money making machines are what a lot of vet facilities are.

Took my dog into work (had to do it on a weekend, so people wouldn't freak out), and did a cardiac ultrasound on him, myself. Awful mitral regurg. Only a couple of solutions to that problem, and I was not about to have my little dog's chest cracked...

Were you able to see how big the left atrium was compared to the aorta on the short axis? In vet medicine regurg does not always equal medications right away. Studies show don't show much advantage to starting them prior to actual heart failure. Was your dog showing signs or heart failure or just have the murmur?
You'd have to go to Japan to have your dog's mitral valve repaired anyway. The Japanese group recently published a paper with some really great results so maybe we'll get someone in the States to start doing them soon...

So to summarize, the dog lasted another 5 years, I gave him good meds (Lisinopril, Furosemide, etc) and it cost, based on my estimates, about $8,000 less than using the 'specialists'.

I'm curious who prescribed the meds? I'm glad your dog had such a good survival time, that's pretty amazing for a grade 6 murmur.

I understand that becoming a vet is really hard (potentially harder than an MD for people), but I fail to see why I can't get out of the vet's office for less than $250.

I'm guessing you didn't pay for the time you spent using the echo. I'm sure you well know those machines are pricey. You also didn't pay someone (like me!) to assist you. I'd like to be pricey too but that's a different subject I don't know who you had managing your dog's meds, but if it wasn't a veterinary cardiologist then they probably didn't spend 4 years in vet school followed by a one year internship and then a 3 year cardiology residency. They do get paid in internship and residency but it's not much (less than I make as a vet tech). So, when they get done with all that they do expect to be paid well for their expertise. *shrug*
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:32 PM
 
3,244 posts, read 7,153,627 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kansas sky View Post
Well, my last dog had a stage-6 heart murmur (I know, in people it only goes to 4). Been in the medical community for 17 years, so I know my way around a hospital.

Your dog had a heart murmur you could hear without a stethoscope? That's impressive!


I have about 4 stethoscopes floating around the house. Where did THAT false assumption come from? Basically everyone in my family (and extended family) is an MD PhD, or is in the medical community, and the current SO is an NP. (I literally am the relatively stupid one, as I only have 4 degrees).

Took the dog to a local specialist veterinary clinic, where they assigned a cardiologist, neurologist, hematologist and GP.

I'm curious why the neurologist (or anybody but the cardiologist actually). Was he having syncopal episodes?

Only twice. As stated in my earlier post, it is an organization to make lots of money. You should see the cars those vets drive.

The first thing they wanted to do was a cardiac MRI, for $3,000. When I stated I could get one on myself, a human, (worked on designing MRI's for a few years) for about $1,200, that sort of ended it for me.

We would never recommend that without an echo first where I work.


That is why I went and did one where I used to work (we designed ultrasound systems. One of the largest manufacturers of them in the world.) Got one of the staff sonographers to come in to help.


Would the $1,200 be with or without insurance?

Cash, up front. I used to design cardiac MRI machine in another division of the company.

Money making machines are what a lot of vet facilities are.

Took my dog into work (had to do it on a weekend, so people wouldn't freak out), and did a cardiac ultrasound on him, myself. Awful mitral regurg. Only a couple of solutions to that problem, and I was not about to have my little dog's chest cracked...

Were you able to see how big the left atrium was compared to the aorta on the short axis? In vet medicine regurg does not always equal medications right away.


They was a mitral jet that looked like a fireworks display, using color flow, and the heart was significantly enlarged. I also did an EKG (we designed those too.)


Studies show don't show much advantage to starting them prior to actual heart failure. Was your dog showing signs or heart failure or just have the murmur?


This was an easy diagnosis.... exhausted easily, loss of energy, heart swelling that ultimately was pressing on the lungs. Textbook.

You'd have to go to Japan to have your dog's mitral valve repaired anyway. The Japanese group recently published a paper with some really great results so maybe we'll get someone in the States to start doing them soon...


Me thinks not. My current dog (also about 5 lbs) had a shunt between the pulmonary and aorta... They put in an Amplatzer with a catheter at Angell Memorial.... (Ouch, that ran $6K) They do essentially anything that they can do on a human here. (The femoral artery is about the diameter of a piece of spaghetti on a dog this size). Geez, they do liver transplants on cats.


So to summarize, the dog lasted another 5 years, I gave him good meds (Lisinopril, Furosemide, etc) and it cost, based on my estimates, about $8,000 less than using the 'specialists'.

I'm curious who prescribed the meds? I'm glad your dog had such a good survival time, that's pretty amazing for a grade 6 murmur.


Easy, just phoned up the vet, told him the symptoms and what I observed and the echo, and voila, there you go. These aren't drugs that can be abused. I know it is not exactly the same, but I can read the PDR (and have, cover-to-cover). Geez, I am on Labetalol, Diovan/HCT and Furosemide. Ultimately I would not have needed a prescription at all, given the quantity needed for such a small animal and what I have in stock. I too was really impressed that he lasted so long. He did live the life of a king, as that is what I would want for any pet I own. Just wish I didn't get to see the last minute of his life. (But he did last 13 years, and even the vets were surprised).

I understand that becoming a vet is really hard (potentially harder than an MD for people), but I fail to see why I can't get out of the vet's office for less than $250.

I'm guessing you didn't pay for the time you spent using the echo. I'm sure you well know those machines are pricey.


I will repeat, we designed and built them, so I had access to hundreds of them, as part of the business, for free. I had one on my office. The ones we made were really pricey, and we sold them to hospitals. We engineers would image ourselves all the time, to optimize image quality.


You also didn't pay someone (like me!) to assist you.


Didn't need to. Had a pile of sonographers that worked for the company. Sort of like going to Speedy Muffler for an oil change, when you work for Jiffy Lube, and do it yourself.


I'd like to be pricey too but that's a different subject I don't know who you had managing your dog's meds, but if it wasn't a veterinary cardiologist then they probably didn't spend 4 years in vet school followed by a one year internship and then a 3 year cardiology residency. They do get paid in internship and residency but it's not much (less than I make as a vet tech). So, when they get done with all that they do expect to be paid well for their expertise. *shrug*


When it costs more for healthcare for my dog, than it does for me (and I don't carry health insurance for myself), something isn't quite right.
(Though looking at the mean and median salaries for a veterinarian, financially they would have done way better by being an engineer at start-up companies.) Though it is way more important to do what you love, rather than chase the dollar.


JMHO Mine in green.

Last edited by SuperSparkle928; 04-27-2012 at 04:45 PM..
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:33 PM
 
Location: Baton Rouge
12 posts, read 27,682 times
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I work at a vet clinic, one of the pricier ones, and we don't really make much money. Think about all the bills being paid - salaries, utilities, paying off equipment, paying back school loans, etc. There is a TON of overhead. Vets go to school for eight years (the same amount of time that your dentist did) but they are under-appreciated. Do people really value their animals less than their teeth? Just because they treat animals they're not real doctors? Your own health bills, for the same tests, are much more than what we charge. But because of human health insurance people don't notice or care. We are just trying to make a living, and most vets make around $50,000. A lot make less than that. I'm not a vet, just an underling, but I get so tired of people complaining about our costs... ugh.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:18 AM
 
Location: Southeast Missouri
5,812 posts, read 18,089,561 times
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I'm sure some vets charge more than they need to. Most of couldn't afford medical care for ourselves without insurance. So I guess it shouldn't be a surprise when animals rack up huge bills at the vet.

I love my animals, but I'm not sure I could justify spending thousands on their care if I knew there was a good chance they would not live long after or have a good quality of life.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:22 PM
 
8,679 posts, read 14,717,807 times
Reputation: 15330
Quote:
Originally Posted by zugor View Post
My one gripe with my vet is the ridiculous charges for most meds. My dog is on Soloxine for her thyroid and the vet wants $27.50 for a one month supply.

I said no and asked for a 'scrip that I sent in to Drs. Foster and Smith and got 500, an 8.3 month supply for $70.00. Had I gotten them from my vet it would have been $228.25 for the same amount.

If she's willing to write a scrip for more than a one month supply why won't she dispense a similar quantity at her office rather than once a month. Of the $27.50 she charges, $15.00 is the dispensing fee and only $12.50 is for the actual meds.

Makes no business sense to me.

It really depends on the vet, and to a certain extent, who owns the practice.

My green-cheek conure used to have seizures. I went to one of two 24-hour multi-species practices here on Long Island, and the only one near me that had an avian specialist on staff. These people were the biggest rip-off artists I'd ever run into in any business of any kind anywhere. They ran a whole bunch of unnecessary tests, did things to this poor little bird (GCCs are about the size of a large sparrow) that were beyond over-the-top, including [URL="http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gavage"]gavage feeding[/URL] with peanut-butter and Metamucil because they thought his seizures were caused by ingesting bits of paint from his cage, handed me these huge syringes with big needles to treat him for "low calcium" when it turned out there was no metal toxicity and then wanted to charge me $25 a pop to do it themselves when I didn't feel comfortable giving him shots in his chest myself.

$3,000 on and on, to be exact.

One evening while I was sitting in the waiting room with my bird waiting to take him in for his shot, a distraught woman came in with a dog that was having seizures. I watched as they demanded her credit card info up front and refused to even acknowledge the dog's presence or talk about the dog at all unless she agreed to sign something saying that they could do what they wanted to the dog and that she would pay for it. Watching this, I realized they did the same thing to me as I stood there crying and terrified three weeks earlier, but at the time I was too blinded by concern for my pet to see it. It was like they were exploiting pet-owner fear to get the most money out of it.

I walked out with my bird then and there, and when I got home I did some digging on the practice, beyond the usual online review sites. Turns out the practice is not owned by veterinarians. It's owned by some foreign business people, none of whom are vets. The practice was a business venture, nothing more.

I also looked up other avian vets on Long Island, and found one that not only had great reviews and endorsements by the local bird clubs, but also works with the local parks and is one of only about 100 veterinarians worldwide with the designation of Diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Avian Medicine.

After 15 minutes with my bird and a few well-targeted questions, he said, "He probably has epilepsy. It's not uncommon in small birds. Give him 3 units of phenobarbital twice a day by beak, if that doesn't work, we'll increase him one or two units." Grand total for the visit, $75.

I also got the meds from him for $10 for about two months, as opposed to me filling a scrip at the local pharmacy for $20 for three weeks and having to go back and forth for refills. He's 45 minutes away from me, but he's worth it, and I take my other bird to him. People bring their pets from as far away as Pennsylvania to see him.

And so my bird lived another three and a half years before he passed away last September, roughly aged 14, which was pretty good considering he was a rescue that had previously been through two previous homes and severe neglect, and he had an irregular heartbeat in addition to the epilepsy. He died of something completely unrelated, too. Doc said he had an abnormal liver and spleen, probably cancer.

If I had known about the first practice, I never would have taken my bird there. Unfortunately, I had only been in the area for a few months, and was recovering from my own surgery at the time, so when he had a spate of seizures close together and I realized they weren't just the occasional night frights, I went to the closest place I could find, as technically I wasn't even supposed to be driving yet (staples over my incision).

Moral to this wall of text: Locate and research vets before you move somewhere.

Last edited by Yzette; 05-03-2012 at 12:39 PM.. Reason: typos, sorry so long, too.
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