Information for Rescue Organizations and Pet Owners going to UT Small Animal Clinic
Dr. Karen Tobias
Shunt Management Team
For the UTmost Care
27 February 2009
1. Unless an animal is owned by the rescue agency (no official owner), the animal needs to come in under its owner's name. This allows us to contact referring veterinarians with instructions and to contact owners for follow-up, which is essential for the dog and for future patients. Legally, we need to have the owner's permission to contact someone about the patient. Clinically, we need short term and long term follow-up on all our dogs to determine whether there is anything about our procedures that we need to change.
2. For any group or individual, we must have a deposit at the time the animal is officially admitted (after it has been examined and diagnostics and treatments have been discussed with the owner or agent and before the owner or agent has left the building). Even if the animal is brought in by an agent, we still need to have a deposit to be able to proceed with anything. If there is no deposit from the owner, agent, or rescue agency, we will need to send the pet with the owner or agent.
3. We need to have full payment before the animal can be released from the hospital. If a rescue agency is paying the residual on the bill, someone needs to call in the credit card info, expiration date, and verification code at the time of discharge. Individual owners can apply for Care Credit; if their credit history is good, they will be able to work out a payment plan.
4. Anyone can pay the deposit or the final bill. We can use a credit card or check from the rescue agency, the agent, the owner, or any other third party that agrees to pay the bill.
5. Our current estimate for uncomplicated extrahepatic shunts in dogs with no other problems is $1800-$2000. Because of inflation, the cost has increased from the estimate that we gave several years ago. The estimate covers bloodwork, scintigraphy, routine anesthesia and surgery (including a spay or castration), 1-2 nights hospitalization and 1-2 nights in the ICU, and basic medications. The cost (and thus the estimate) may be higher than the estimate for animals that need additional diagnostics (like a portogram, ultrasound, or chest x-rays) or surgical procedures (like bladder stone removal), or have other conditions (collapsing trachea, pneumonia, seizures, etc). The cost also increases beyond the estimate if the animals have complications or are left for boarding because they cannot be picked up within 2 days after surgery.
6. We charge the same for all dogs. Nationwide, the surgery alone costs about $2000-$3000 (without scintigraphy, bloodwork, spay/castration, etc). We are using the Angel Fund to reduce the cost for all patients. We are also using the Angel Fund to supplement costs for challenging cases (some of our intrahepatic shunts), and for clinical research that will improve diagnosis and treatment of shunts and microvascular dysplasia secondary to congenital portal hypoplasia. If we feel that a test is primarily for our interest vs. the patient's, we use the Angel Fund to cover the cost of that test. Occasionally we will use the Angel Fund to cover part of the cost when we want a resident to see or do the procedure.
Hopefully, this information will help owners and rescue agencies prepare for the dog's visit more effectively.
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