Thursday, June 30, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions by Pet Owners about The Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR)

(Provided by AVMA; NOT written by Dr. Robison)

Q: What is a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR)?
A: A Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship, or VCPR for short, exists when your veterinarian knows your pet well enough to be able to diagnose and treat any medical conditions your animal develops. Your part of the VCPR is allowing your veterinarian to take responsibility for making clinical judgments about your pet's health, asking questions to make sure you understand, and following your veterinarian's instructions. Your veterinarian's part of the VCPR involves making those judgments, accepting the responsibility for providing your pet with medical care, advising you about the benefits and risks of different treatment options, keeping a written record of your pet's medical care, and helping you know how to get emergency care for your pet if the need should arise.

Q: How is a VCPR established and maintained?
A: A VCPR is established only when your veterinarian examines your animal in person, and is maintained by regular veterinary visits as needed to monitor your animal's health. If a VCPR is established but your veterinarian does not regularly see your pet afterward, the VCPR is no longer valid and it would be illegal and unethical for your veterinarian to dispense or prescribe medications or recommend treatment without recently examining your pet.
A valid VCPR cannot be established online, via email, or over the phone.

Q: Why is a VCPR so important?
A: For one, it's required by law in many states – in order for a veterinarian to diagnose or treat your animal, or prescribe or dispense medications, a VCPR must be in effect according to the state's Veterinary Practice Act (if you have questions about your state's Practice Act, contact your state veterinary medical board). Two, it's the best thing for your animal's health. Your veterinarian should be familiar with your animal's medical history and keep a written record of your animal's health so they can provide your animal with the best possible care. The AVMA's Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics also requires a VCPR for a veterinarian to prescribe medication or otherwise treat an animal.

Q: How can a VCPR be ended?
A: You, as the client, can terminate a VCPR at any time by notifying the veterinarian. If your veterinarian chooses to end the VCPR, they should notify you and, if your animal has an ongoing illness, provide medical care until you have transitioned to another veterinarian.

Q: What does my veterinarian offer that an online source can't match?
A: Your veterinarian knows you and knows your animal(s), and this is critical to keeping your animal(s) healthy. For example, your veterinarian can customize a vaccination program to give your animal the best protection from disease and make sure that it isn't getting a vaccine it doesn't need. Vaccine and drug reactions, although uncommon, can occur, and your veterinarian is trained to recognize and treat them to minimize the chance that the reaction will become severe or even life-threatening – you can't get that from a website!

Figuring out what's wrong with an animal is like solving a very complex puzzle – your veterinarian has to figure out how to fit all of the clues (pieces of the puzzle) together to solve it. Veterinarians have, on average, 8 or more years of college and in-depth veterinary school training to prepare them for this task. Their training makes it possible for them to thoroughly evaluate, diagnose and treat your animal's problem. Doing these things effectively involves thorough knowledge of your animal's body systems and how they function, as well as a familiarity with how medications and other treatments work and if any treatments interfere with others. Hands-on physical examination is incredibly valuable to your pet and can't be replaced by a phone conversation, web-based conversation, or email description.

This information has been prepared as a service by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Redistribution is acceptable, but the document's original content and format must be maintained, and its source must be prominently identified. Please contact Dr. Kimberly May (800.248.2862, ext 6667) with questions or comments.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nestle Purina Recall

The Nestle Purina dry cat food recall does NOT involve food sold in California, but stay tuned just in case it expands.

ETA: Many people don't realize that half the concern about Salmonella contamination of dry pet food is due to the risk of it spreading to humans. Salmonellosis is a zoonosis (a disease spread from animals to humans) - in this case, the food is the device by which such spread is accomplished.

CDC has an excellent page that discusses how to minimize the risk of catching Salmonella from pet food.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why Cats Hate the Vet

A few of you might have noticed that your cats are not exactly keen on coming to visit us here at Cat's Meow Veterinary Clinic. Well, maybe that's more than a few. Perhaps even most.

I'd sure love it if they all had dog-like enthusiasm toward new and different experiences, people, and places. But they are cats, and their brains work differently than ours or dogs' do. When frightened, cats tend to revert to behavior more like that of their Felis sylvestris lybica ancestors, and that poses special challenges for us when it comes to handling, examining, and treating them.

Amy Shojai has written an excellent article on this vet-related behavior problem and how to address it, and I highly recommend reading it.

Our Time Warner Phone Service

Dear Clients:

As I write this, we are AGAIN experiencing an interruption in our phone service. I guess I shouldn't complain too much - we also lost internet for over an hour, but it just came back on.

This is the second phone outage this week, and the third since I switched from AT&T. While I am happier overall with TWBC than I was with AT&T for a multitude of reasons which I won't delve into here, this inconsistent, unreliable phone connection has me a bit perturbed. Especially since I am locked into a two-year contract with these fools.

Sigh. You know the routine. 818-297-xxxx. I'm also going to try allowing comments on here and will check in periodically.

Update: 11 AM the phones are working again. Whew.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Pancake

You might remember the kitten we had here last fall for a couple of months after she was brought in by a Good Sam who saw her collide with a car. Anne has been fostering her since just before Christmas.

Well, good news: Little Miss Pinkie Pancakes has got a Forever Home with a very kind woman who found herself catless and in need. The Pancake goes to her new home today, and we are hoping she has many good years there, and a long life full of love.

I'll post a pic of her with her new mom as soon as I have one.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Oodles of Great Videos

I just managed to rediscover the CATalyst Council's video page. I guess that's sort of like reinventing the wheel.......

My personal favorite is Scotty's trip to the vet from his own perspective.

For clients, my top recommend is for the two videos about getting your cat accustomed to the carrier.

June is Adopt-A-Cat Month!

From the AVMA website:

Benefits of Cat Ownership - Each year around this time, thousands of newborn kittens join the millions of cats already in shelters across the country. To help address this booming population of cats in need of a home, the American Humane Association—along with partner organizations such as the AVMA, CATalyst Council and Petfinder—are observing Adopt-A-Cat Month in June. These groups hope to promote the benefits of having a cat (or cats) in the house and encourage responsible adoption and ownership to mitigate the problem of overpopulation.

Here's a very informative podcast with Dr. Jane Brunt of the CATalyst Council.

And here's an article from the CATalyst Council about Adopt-A-Cat Month and a ten point adoption checklist.

Of course, nobody needs to sell ME on the pleasures of cat ownership - I have had one or more of these furballs in my life continually since 1980, and enjoyed them from afar for many years before that. And in these difficult economic times, it's important to note that cat ownership is generally a less costly commitment than dog ownership.

So if you don't yet have a cat, please do consider getting one, or better yet, two (they do best with a buddy). If you already have one or two, there's room for more, and cats needing homes abound! When you do, be sure to make an appointment within a week or so for an initial veterinary exam to get off to a healthy start.