Choosing a Veterinary Hospital
AAHA Accreditation, Modern Equipment, Personal Service, Reasonable Prices
Choosing a veterinarian can be a tough thing to do. You are looking for someone that will treat your pet as the most important pet in the world. The service that you are buying is veterinary care - how do you evaluate a hospital on the quality of their care? Sure, all the doctors are licensed by the state. To be licensed by the state you have to take board exams when you leave school - so that tells you that the doctors were smart when they left school. But, how are they practicing medicine - is it good quality medicine - are they using best practices as determined by their peers? How can you tell? What about cost of the care? Is the hospital using modern medical equipment? There have been lots of improvements in the equipment over the past couple of decades - is the hospital buying new equipment? You would be surprised at the number of hospitals that still use film x-rays when high quality, high resolution digital x-rays have been available for decades.
Evaluating Quality of Care and CleanlinessHow do you ensure that your pet is receiving the best quality care? You are not a specialist and you do not have time to review all the procedures in the hospital. Fortunately, you do not have to - that is what accreditation is all about. Accreditation by the American Animal Hospital Association ensures that the hospital has been inspected by experts in the field and that the hospital is operating using modern medical equipment and best practices. So, accreditation takes care of answering all those questions that you do not know to ask - all you have to ask of the hospital is, "Are you accredited?" If they answer with no, simply ask why not. Then ask for a tour of the hospital. Does the hospital have an odor? The hospital should not stink - if it does - that can indicate a problem with cleanliness. AAHA hospitals must maintain the highest standards in cleanliness in order to be accredited.
The accreditation question answers how the hospital practices medicine - a really important part of choosing the best hospital - right? That is what you are purchasing after all - medical care. You will also want to get information on how much the hospital charges for certain procedures such as a check up. Salt Lake City veterinarians fees vary dramatically depending on what part of the valley they are in. Prices will range quite a bit from the high $30 range on the west side to the high $60 or $70 range elsewhere in the valley. Many places will offer coupons giving discounts for the first visit. Watch to make sure that the hospital is not making up for low exam fees by asking them if they price match on pharmaceuticals. Sure, you can go online and buy discounted items, but it is tons more convenient if you can get them at the veterinary hospital - but you do not want to pay double the price. Ask your hospital if they are willing to price match on pharmaceuticals - and be a smart shopper - this can really keep the price of care of your pet at a minimum.
Are the staff friendly? The last thing you want is a grumpy technician or doctor helping your pet. You want gentle, caring hands helping your pet. Coming to the veterinarian can be a frightening experience for animals - you want them to be around gentle, caring people that cuddle them and make them feel welcome. You want people that take an interest in the problems with your pet - you want people that are interested in the care of your pet and your concerns. You can tell a lot just by walking into the hospital - did the staff smile and greet you and your pet? If so, you probably have a place with a friendly staff.
Who owns the hospital? To some extent, you probably do not care - but it can make a big difference if there are problems. Owner operated businesses and local businesses tend to be easier to get great customer care. Typically you can talk to the owner when you walk in the door. Corporate hospitals are really common place now-a-days and there are very few hospitals where you can still find the owner in the building. It is quite unusual to find owner-operated hospitals that are also AAHA accredited - when you find one, you have a truly special animal hospital where people take care of your pet the way you would - if you were a veterinarian.