NATIONAL REPORT — Client expectations have increased over the last two years, according to 80 percent of veterinarians surveyed.
About the DVM Newsmagazine survey
Most veterinarians attribute the trend to client demands, access to better medical equipment and more veterinary specialists.
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.
Table 1: Who handles medical complaints in your hospital?
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.
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.
Table 2: Is the standard of veterinary care in your area becoming more sophisticated?
These two trends, experts say, explain, at least partly, the increase in state-board complaints nationally (DVM Newsmagazine,
http://www.dvmnews.com/ click on State Board series.)
If you factor out cases of negligence, most complaints are driven by poor communication.
Table 3: Compared to human health care, how would you rate the veterinary care delivered in your area?
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."
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.
Table 4: What is your preferred method of communication in addressing a medical complaint?
Almost 50 percent of owners talk through complaints when they surface. On average, technicians handle 17 percent of medical
complaints in the hospital.