Nov
26
2013

A recent report from 20/20 on ABC has elicited strong responses from the veterinary community following its assertion that many veterinary hospitals engage in the upselling of unnecessary procedures.

The fallout from the episode (view on the ABC website) has led veterinarians to publicly defend the profession via social media, Dr. Marty Becker to end his 17-year partnership with ABC, and the AVMA to conclude that its written statement provided to the program had been improperly edited by the show's producers.

NEWStat has rounded up some of the most thought-provoking news and opinions surrounding the controversy from the past week. 

AVMA reacts to the program and offers tips to help veterinarians handle client questions

According to the AVMA, its written statement submitted to 20/20 was edited down from several paragraphs to one sentence: “The American Veterinary Medical Association said in a statement to ABC News that it’s up to pet owners to decide whether to follow a vet’s recommendations.”

The association said the editing was just one of the reasons it was disappointed in the program, but it also said the show offers the veterinary profession the chance to work on the way it discusses the value of preventive care with clients. 

Read more of AVMA's reaction to the program on the AVMA website and find several resources for veterinarians to respond to client questions about the program.

Dr. Marty Becker ends collaboration with ABC over 20/20 episode

Frustrated with the way 20/20 edited his taped comments for the program, Dr. Marty Becker announced he had cut ties with ABC after 17 successful years as a veterinary contributor for the network.

"Sometimes you have to take a stand, even when it costs you. That time came for me today," Becker posted on his Facebook page. "I want my veterinary colleagues and all pet lovers to know that nothing is more important to me than pets, their people, and my beloved profession."

Read more about Becker's tough decision.

AAHA voices its thoughts on the episode

AAHA took to its Facebook page as well as 20/20's Facebook page and website to share the following opinion regarding the 20/20 episode:

"Disappointed in last night's 20/20 episode about veterinarians? Us too. We know that veterinarians are advocates for their patients. They are going to recommend the best care for every pet. Veterinarians are going to make vaccine recommendations for each individual pet based on their lifestage and lifestyle and overall health. Veterinarians have the discretion to recommend vaccination intervals that are right for your pet, whether it be annually or in three-year intervals. AAHA is proud to say that its accredited hospitals follow our standards of accreditation, which include providing general anesthesia to allow thorough and proper examination and treatment for all dental procedures. AAHA believes in the importance of establishing a relationship with your veterinarian and their practice team who recognize that you, as a pet's human, are an integral part of the health care team. As such, your opinion counts in open dialogue and decision-making related to your pet's health. In the future, AAHA suggests news organizations take the time to identify and interview real experts in the veterinary profession."

Read more about AAHA's response on AAHA's Member Connection.

Veterinarian publishes response to show on Huffington Post

Donna Solomon, DVM, published her editorial titled "True Confessions of a Veterinarian" on Huffington Post. In her column, Solomon dissected the 20/20 program and offered her rebuttals to many of the more inflammatory points made on the program.

In the editorial, Solomon writes: "For the producers of 20/20 to put hardworking and intelligent veterinarians in the same category as car thieves, and "bartenders who are spiking drinks with Visine" is absurd. Sure, there are some individuals that we wish would be more conscientious in the delivery of their profession. However, to feel that 20/20 must expose veterinary malpractice to save the pet lovers of the world is ridiculous. Shame on ABC for trying to generate this controversy and incite pet owners to be distrustful of their veterinarian."

Read Solomon's entire column on Huffington Post.

Share your views

What was your take on the 20/20 episode? Feel free to comment below or share your opinion on AAHA's Facebook page.

Comments (1) -

Susan Coulter, DVM
Susan Coulter, DVMUnited States
12/9/2013 9:41:08 AM #

Sorry, but I agree with Dr. Jones.   Guilt is a powerful tool and it is used all the time in veterinary medicine and unfortunately not always in the pet's best interest.  Certainly veterinarians work hard and they have to generate enough income to pay  to run their business. The AVMA's response is lame.  How is a pet owner going to know what is best  unless it is advice from the veterinarian?   Organizations such as AAHA keep changing the "standard of practice"  so it is almost a crime if you don't send out  "pain drugs" with every broken toenail.  What this means is at least another $20 on the bill but who knows what cumulative liver and kidney damage these drugs cause.  How many pet owners are led by guilt to treat a 15-year or older pet with cancer?  It's easy to sell knowing full well the prognosis is not good.  I can go on and on with more examples.  I have had enough of pet practice!  I would love to do something more meaningful like food safety.

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