Friday, February 17, 2017

MacGyver Style

My husband has just recently started re-watching old MacGyver reruns.  I think the combination of the remake being on and just enjoying them has rekindled his interest.  He was a little surprised when he found out how familiar I was with them.  I told him, as veterinarians, we all have a little "MacGyver" in us.  Between finances not being what they are in human medicine and making do with what you have, we also have to adapt and make do with medical devices, equipment and medicine that is primarily produced for humans.  

I also have a special link to MacGyver in that when I was in college, in order to get away from a crazy roommate, I would go to my teammate's dorm room and hang out, while she watched MacGyver.  Little did I know that this was how I would meet one of my best friends for life.  My teammate's roommate actually became a great friend who I've taken road trips with, was a bridesmaid and more.  The person (my teammate) who introduced us long ago, we have both fallen out of touch with, but we are grateful for her introduction.

There are not a whole lot of drugs and devices that are developed primarily for veterinary medicine.  There just isn't enough money to warrant the research money and production costs for a market in which some owners don't even see the importance of vaccination, let alone advancing medical procedures.

Some of our equipment and drugs are a result of things that were initially developed for humans and then just didn't work out- either because of safety concerns in humans or another reason.  Then these companies try to recoup their cost by marketing and developing it as a veterinary product.  Probably about 60-70% of the medicines we use are "off-label" in veterinary patients and are primarily human drugs.  My husband was shocked to find that out.  The FDA doesn't do studies on these drugs for animal use, they are studied for human use and then us veterinarians fiddle around with them and learn how we can use them to benefit animals.  Even medications like Viagra can have a veterinary use.  (In this case, we use it for pulmonary hypertension).  It's kind of funny to see the reactions on peoples faces when you tell them you are prescribing Viagra.

Not only do we do things "MacGyver style" with the drugs and devices we use, sometimes with surgery or bandaging or other problem solving we have to just kind of wing it.  Did you know you can put boxer shorts on a dog by putting their tail through the fly and you can use this to prevent them  from causing sores on their hind end.  Or, besides being cute, an infant's size 6-9 months onesie can help prevent that cat from licking its abscess?  Canned pumpkin and epsom salts have been friends of mine in multiple situations.  I can also get pretty creative with taping and using plastic splints.  We actually keep saws and drills at the clinic to help finagle and mold things to our individual patients.  Veterinary medicine keeps you on your toes and does require creativity, because many pets have different needs, different problems, different sizes and different tolerances.  Throw in financial concerns, and you have a recipe for coming up with some pretty interesting problem solving.  In case you were wondering, my Swiss Army Knife was a staple along with my stethoscope during my school years.

So the next time you watch MacGyver, think about your veterinarian!

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