The costs of care

The costs of care

Rising standards driven by pet-owner expectations, DVM survey shows
Nov 01, 2007

About the DVM Newsmagazine survey
NATIONAL REPORT — Client expectations have increased over the last two years, according to 80 percent of veterinarians surveyed.

Most veterinarians attribute the trend to client demands, access to better medical equipment and more veterinary specialists.

Table 1: Who handles medical complaints in your hospital?
Half the veterinarians polled in an exclusive DVM Newsmagazine survey say most of their clients expect a higher level of veterinary care, while 30 percent of respondents say the increase is noted with their best clients.

Almost all acknowledge that standards for veterinary care have increased over the last two years; 40 percent of them say the needle has moved significantly on quality standards.

Table 2: Is the standard of veterinary care in your area becoming more sophisticated?
Costs are climbing, too. According to 55 percent of veterinarians polled, veterinary costs are rising too rapidly for some clients. Another 27 percent believe fees are escalating too quickly for all clients, while the remaining 18 percent don't see rising costs as much of a factor either way.

These two trends, experts say, explain, at least partly, the increase in state-board complaints nationally (DVM Newsmagazine, Oct. 2007; click on State Board series.)

Table 3: Compared to human health care, how would you rate the veterinary care delivered in your area?
If you factor out cases of negligence, most complaints are driven by poor communication.

Sue Geranen, executive director of the California Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, explains it this way: "Much of this is about communication. Consumers perceive there is something wrong, even if the veterinarian has done everything correctly. Sometimes veterinarians just get too busy to talk to clients and oftentimes it generates complaints."

Table 4: What is your preferred method of communication in addressing a medical complaint?
When a pet owner levels a grievance against a veterinary practice, DVMs typically intervene to handle the hospitals' communication, according to the DVM Newsmagazine survey.

Almost 50 percent of owners talk through complaints when they surface. On average, technicians handle 17 percent of medical complaints in the hospital.