We veterinarians need to be sued

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We veterinarians need to be sued

Client visits are down. Get your lawyer visits up, and watch our industry's revenue skyrocket.
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Nov 15, 2011

OK, it’s evident our profession is in free fall. Clients don’t want to visit us anymore, we cost too much, and we make too little. The Internet bashes us from one side while the nonprofits smack us from the other. We cut fees, give away surgeries, and do more for less—and it’s not working. We need a new tonic for our troubles: something proven, well tested, and certain to give the profession the boost it needs. Well, grasshoppers, never the one to shy away from a daunting task, I’ve sought and found the answer: We need to be sued.

Lawsuits = revenue
In the health professions, the most highly remunerated folks are MD surgeons. Neurosurgeons are at the top, followed by thoracic surgeons, bone-setters, and on down the pay scale. And this ranking is associated with their risk of being sued for malpractice. See the correlation? More lawsuits equals more income (and new cars and vacation houses). OMG! It’s totally obvious!

Yep, we DVMs just aren’t sued enough. We don’t attract lawyer sharks in their $5,000 suits. And even though many of our clients feel wronged by us, we just can’t get them to take the next step and whack us with a subpoena. So, my modest proposal is to embrace the legal profession in the same way a fisherman holds a cold, smelly, flopping fish to his chest, knowing that tonight it’ll feed his family well. Invite lawyers over for a visit. Graduate more DVM-JDs, so they know our weak spots. And stop talking to our clients, since the No. 1 incentive to sue is poor communications.

Yes, we’ll have to get that ­pesky law about our patients being property changed so the monetary rewards are worth it, but that’s already in the works. If we lend our support to any pending legislation, it’ll easily pass.

Forget insurance
Worried your insurance costs will skyrocket? Don’t. How much can they be: $5,000, $20,000 a year? Wouldn’t you trade that for an extra $200K a year in income? Besides, it’s just a business expense. Write it off on your next tax return. And, get this interesting statistic: Of all the medical malpractice lawsuits, only about 1 percent result in an award for the plaintiff (that’s “client” to us). What, me worry?

To sue is the American way
Look, here’s the bottom line: In the United States, we love lawyers, and they define what’s important in our society. If a profession is significant, it’s worthy of legal action. And right now, we just aren’t important enough.

Sure, our clients—what’s left of them—love us, but the general public thinks we’re silly and irrelevant. You hardly ever hear any good DVM jokes anymore. It’s time to get relevant, get some respect. It’s time to ante up on some wrongdoing and dare the hounds of jurisprudence to pursue us in court. Call the AVMA today and demand they redact our code of professional ethics. Call your insurance agent and get $10 million worth of coverage. Check out that new Mercedes SCL 600—it’s stunning!

For the benefit of us all, let it rain lawsuits, money, and respect. Be American. (Sorry, Canadians.) Be proud. Be a whole lot richer.

And if you disagree, sue me. Please.

Dr. Craig Woloshyn, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member, owns Sun Dog Veterinary Consulting in Custer, S.D. Please send questions or comments to ve@advanstar.com.

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