Dr. Walther: We should never forget that a large part of our population lives in areas that are not going to have specialists for at least
the time being, and we can't discourage young veterinarians who are willing to do cruciates not try them. I think there's
a tendency, and I see this in the younger veterinarians and the students that I've worked with, is they don't think they can
do those procedures. It is incumbent upon those of us in practice and those who know enough in academia that if a student
or young veterinarian is willing to tackle some of these procedures, we have to encourage them. I practice in an area right
now where I'm 300 miles from the nearest specialist and most of my clients are not willing, under any circumstances, to travel
that far. Specialization is wonderful; it's made a difference in our profession, but there still is room for the good surgeon
practitioner who is not a specialist in another discipline.
Dr. Jack Walther
Dr. Beaver: I would like to add one quick comment to that too. There are a large number of clients who are not willing to pay fees for
specialty care. So, that is a factor we're going to have to come to grips with — this dichotomy of the economics within our
Ms. Richard: From a legal point of view, the standard of care question is changing because of the availability of specialists. If a client's
willingness to pay determines the level of care, it raises a very interesting question in terms of potential malpractice liability.
If the standard is that you refer a cruciate repair to an orthopedics' specialist, but your client doesn't want to pay for
that, so you do it yourself and there is a bad outcome, what happens to the standard of care? I think it's very different
from human medicine because of the level of choice clients have in this system. For veterinary medicine, it will be interesting
to see how juries sort that one out ultimately.