Since I haven't seen a patient in weeks, I have no exciting stories to relay. On the other hand, I am curious as to how many of you guys are watching this National Geographic show? It is causing an uproar in the veterinary community.
If you follow my blog at all, you know I have a passion for high quality medicine, staying updated on current diagnostics and treatments, and generally practicing with compassion and integrity. I am passionate about being the best vet I can possibly be. I am also passionate about spreading the word regarding what veterinarians really do, how much training we undergo, how expensive our education is, and how important GOOD, competent health care is for your pets.
Thus, I am a little dismayed by the way the new National Geographic show portrays veterinarians. Don't get me wrong - Dr Pol seems like a compassionate, good man. He has been doing his job a long time. I am not bad-mouthing him. What bothers me is that he is very outdated in his methods.
Granted, this is a reality TV show. It is being twisted to portray things exactly as NatGeo wants them portrayed. I understand that. But when I see Dr Pol doing an orthopedic surgery (in this case, a femoral head osteotomy) without a cap, mask, or gown on, and minimal sterile surgical technique, I cringe inside. This is a major surgery in which the head of the femur is cut off. Infection is a very, very big concern. Further, this dog - undergoing painful, major surgery - was not even intubated or on anesthesia of any sort. Had this dog arrested during surgery, saving him would have been difficult to impossible without control of his airway and an IV catheter. There was also no evidence of any pain medication being administered.
This way of doing things is very, very out-dated and considered well below the standard of care.
So far, the show presents veterinarians in a very dismal light. In our clinic, patients undergoing surgery are on IV fluids, intubated so that we can breathe for them as necessary, provided with adequate analgesia, and absolute sterile technique is maintained at all times. Yet, Joe Average Pet Owner is unaware of this. Many owners see all veterinary care as equal. Dr Pol's show reinforces the idea that veterinary medicine hasn't advanced since the days of James Herriot and that we all do things in this "old school" fashion. The opposite is true.
Further, it reinforces the idea that all vets are in veterinary medicine strictly for the love of animals, that we practice substandard medicine that puts patients at risk, and that there have been no improvements in veterinary anesthesia and analgesia in the last dedcade. It's setting the perception of veterinary medicine back 50 years or more. There is no discussion of proper sterile technique, referral for complex cases, chemotherapy, digital xray, constant rate infusions (CRIs) for pain control, or any of the many, many advancements that have been made in all areas. We can do amazing things for animals, yet this show reflects none of that. For Pete's sake, I watched in amazement as he amputated a dog's tail in an exam room with minimal pain medication, no anesthesia, and NO sterile technique.
It's disheartening. Everyone loves "Good 'ole Doc." He's cheap, he's quick, and he's "old school." Unfortunately, old school doesn't usually benefit critically ill or injured animals. This was evidenced when he gave a nauled puppy a shot of steroid (absolutely NOT indicated in trauma anymore - in human or animal medicine) and left it in a cage. He described the dog as "in shock" - yet he provided no pain medications, IV fluids, or oxygen to stabilize the shock. He placed the puppy in a cage where it died. I treat this kind of thing on a daily basis, and a shot of steroids isn't going to fix a badly mauled animal. It was heartbreaking.
Anyone watching it? What do you think?
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