Veterinary medicine is regulated by state agencies, and each state maintains its own minimum regulations. Although AAHA-accreditation is voluntary, AAHA is the only organization in the US and Canada that accredits companion animal hospitals based on standards that go above and beyond state regulations. The AAHA Standards of Accreditation include more than 900 individual standards, divided into 19 major sections including anesthesia.
Anesthesia is a drug-induced, reversible loss of consciousness that allows pets to undergo complicated or painful medical procedures without the distress or pain they would normally feel if they were conscious. Although anesthesia is necessary for many veterinary procedures, it is important to understand that undergoing anesthesia is not a simple procedure. While undergoing general anesthesia, pets often cannot control their own airway or breathing, making the use of ventilators and breathing tools essential. Animals can also have adverse reactions to the anesthesia drugs administered before, during and after surgery. Despite the potential hazards, anesthesia is critical to provide humane care and can be relatively safe if proper steps are taken.
To decrease the likelihood of anesthesia related complications, the AAHA Standards of Accreditation address pre-anesthetic and emergency procedures; patient monitoring before, during and after surgery; and anesthetic supplies and equipment. Among the many standards in the anesthesia section, AAHA has standards that address that patients receive a patient assessment performed by a practice team member prior to the administration of premedication, sedation or anesthetic. Additionally, AAHA Standards recommend that a sufficient number of practice team members be trained in pet cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to ensure the availability of a trained team member during normal hours of operation and patients are observed at frequent intervals until fully recovered.
The Standards, developed by AAHA, are widely accepted as representing those components of veterinary practice that represent high quality pet care. The Standards are periodically reviewed and updated by a committee of experts and practitioners to ensure that they remain consistent with evolving veterinary knowledge and technology.
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