President’s Message – Are Veterinarians in the Dog House with the Opioids Crisis?

  |   Continuing Education

What if tomorrow you could not order or use oxycodone, hydromorphone, butorphanol, meperidine or fentanyl for your patients?  How would that change your control of pain in your patients? How would these changes affect your clients? Your business?

The treatment of pain for people and animals is at a crossroads. Past neglects and increased abuse has reached a pinnacle of concern within the United States. These concerns have increased interest from the public, media and legislators into the moral and ethical treatment of patients by medical professionals. Our management of health care business will be changing.  The question is, will we have a say in these changes, or will we have to abide by the rules placed on how we administer care?

Many veterinarians hope that as a profession we will be excused from sweeping changes because our opioid use is less than 1% of the total used in the U.S.  Hope should not be our strategy. Veterinarians must pair with our medical counterparts within the human field to protect our ability to prescribe and dispense these medications to our patients.

The potential for mass changes in drug manufacturing and distribution is likely. How should veterinarians respond? Do we find other ways to treat our patients? How do we maintain a safe supply of drugs and medications? How do we protect our business, our licenses, our staff and ourselves? What are our responsibilities to the veterinary profession? Our patients? Our clients?

There are discussions and thoughts into how we consider pain in our patients in the first place.  What is our preconceived perception about pain, and should getting to zero pain be the goal? What about the utilization of alternative herbal medications that have not been studied in animals yet?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg of concerns you might have or have seen in the news, social media, publications etc. This is the single most important issue facing our veterinary businesses to date. The rules and regulations put forth could have an astronomical impact on how we do business every day.

This is the topic of our Vet Matters Conference on March 16, 2019 to be held at Renton Technical College starting at 8:30 am. This one-day, 6-unit CE event will bring together some of the best resources in the area to answer these difficult questions and provide solutions to help protect veterinarians. Please take the time to attend this event as it could protect your future in practice and the veterinary community. It will take the collective thoughts, input and ideas of many to develop a path to protecting veterinarians while allowing us to practice the best we can for our patients.

For more information on this year’s VetMed Matters Conference, The Opioid Crisis: At the Intersection of Human Health and Veterinary Medicine, and to register, visit the WSVMA website.

By Dr. Jean M. Gulbransen, WSVMA President 


Posted March 1, 2019