ETHICS IN VETERINARY MEDICINE: MARKETING & ADVERTISING
Do Not Assume Your Local Animal Hospital is Independently Owned & Locally Operated
An increasing number of privately-owned animal hospitals are being acquired by corporate entities such as veterinary consolidators. It’s estimated that 1 out of every 4 companion animal practices in the U.S. are now corporate-owned. In many cases, these corporate-owned practices display misleading statements about the ownership which may give the false impression to pet owners that the veterinary practice is independently owned & locally operated.
A first of its kind CASE STUDY conducted by CARE for Pets™ reveals that the vast majority of corporate-owned veterinary practices (non-branded) that operate in the state of Arizona, fail to reveal who ultimately owns and controls the animal hospital on their individual practice websites. Most corporations continue to display the local brand (the original branding of the acquired practice). These corporate-owned practices do not communicate and or display their corporation’s name in a transparent manner on their websites.
- CASE STUDY: Is Your ‘Local’ Animal Hospital Corporate-Owned?
ASK YOUR TRUSTED VETERINARIAN ABOUT THE OWNERSHIP STATUS OF THE VETERINARY PRACTICE:
- Corporate practices that are owned by veterinary consolidators employ a large infrastructure of managers and support teams. The support team employees are responsible for managing the large network of hospitals that are owned by the corporate consolidator and includes many back-office functions such as marketing and advertising. The corporation and their non-veterinarian employees are not required or obligated to follow the principles of veterinary medical ethics of the AVMA. You should always confirm directly with your veterinarian about the true ownership status of the veterinary practice.
Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics of the AVMA
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is the nation’s leading advocate for the veterinary profession. Representing more than 99,500 members, we protect, promote and advance the needs of all veterinarians and those they serve.
All veterinarians are expected to adhere to a code of ethical conduct known as the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics (PVME). The PVME includes a section on Advertising (the principles with supporting annotations – section 3, item number 11).
- “Advertising by veterinarians is ethical when there are no false, deceptive, or misleading statements or claims. A false, deceptive, or misleading statement or claim is one which communicates false information or is intended, through a material omission, to leave a false impression.”
- Common Perceptions about Corporate-Owned Veterinary Practices
- ACQUISITIONS ARE NOT PUBLICIZED: It is hard to tell the difference between an independent, locally owned and operated hospital from a corporate veterinary practice. Corporate consolidators view the corporatization of a practice as a marketing liability.
- WHY LOCAL MATTERS: Interview with Dr. Bonnie Bragdon of the IVPA
- National practices purposely avoid ownership identification because they feel it is advantageous – yes, I’ve heard corporate employees say they knowingly and purposefully leave off ownership information.