In response to changes in food animal production systems, much thought and discussion have been devoted to the recruitment, education, training, and retention of veterinarians for FSVM. It has been predicted in some studies1,2 that there will be a decreased need for FSVM practitioners because increased consolidation of the dairy industry is following the already consolidated and vertically integrated swine and poultry industries. Other investigators3,4 have considered the increased age of many food animal practitioners and new opportunities in food safety and projected a shortage of veterinarians dedicated to careers in FSVM. Most authors1–8
Objective—To use decision and sensitivity analysis to examine the delivery of health care on US dairy farms as measured by correction of left displaced abomasum (LDA).
Sample Population—5 journal articles evaluating outcomes from veterinarian- or herd personnel-delivered correction of LDA via laparotomy or a roll-and-toggle procedure.
Procedures—A decision tree was constructed on the basis of published outcome data for correction of LDAs performed by veterinarians and herd personnel. Sensitivity of the model to changing input assumptions was evaluated via an indifference curve and tornado graph.
Results—Decision tree analysis revealed that correction of an LDA provided by herd personnel had an expected economic advantage of $76, compared with correction provided by a veterinarian. Sensitivity of this analysis to variations in inputs indicated that changes of 2 input levels would shift the advantage to veterinarian-provided correction: a reduction (from 0.74 to 0.62) in the probability of success for correction provided by herd personnel or an increase (from 0.78 to 0.87) in the probability of success for correction provided by a veterinarian.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In this model, LDA correction by herd personnel had a significant economic advantage, compared with veterinarian-provided correction. Continued absorption of traditional veterinary tasks by unlicensed herd personnel may threaten the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR), which could have profound economic and regulatory impacts. Food animal veterinarians need to evaluate their business model to ensure they continue to provide relevant, sustainable services to their clients within the context of a valid VCPR.