The ability to trust your veterinarians is important, especially when pets need anesthesia, drugs that numb the senses so that pets do not feel pain during procedures.
Anesthesia is necessary but it can pose health risks, which is why the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) requires accredited clinics to use monitoring equipment.
“Things can happen even with seemingly healthy animals under anesthesia,” said Elise Atkinson, a certified veterinary technician and AAHA accreditation professional. Using monitoring equipment and having a dedicated person to check patients regularly minimizes that risk, she added.
Monitoring equipment tracks a pet’s vital signs— temperature, pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure—while under anesthesia and alerts medical professionals to any changes in a patient’s condition.
Pet vital signs are checked every five minutes at Canobie Lake Veterinary Hospital, an AAHA-accredited practice in New Hampshire. “If there is a problem, we want to catch it right away,” said Danielle Caisse, a licensed veterinary technician and practice manager. Practice members create individual anesthesia plans for each pet, depending on age and the pet’s medical history.
To receive and maintain accreditation, veterinary practices like Canobie Lake must use anesthesia-monitoring equipment and have designated team members monitor the machines.
That level of attention to each patient may, at times, raise surgery prices but it helps protect lives, explained Rachel Carpenter, DVM, who was recently quoted in an article about the importance of anesthesia and the use of monitoring equipment. She encouraged clients to ask veterinary professionals how they safeguard pet health during surgery.
“Your veterinarian should be able to answer questions about how your pet’s vital signs will be monitored … and who will be responsible for monitoring your pet,” said Carpenter, a professor of anesthesia and pain management at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She advises clients to ask about the level of care pets receive at clinics because not all veterinary clinics provide the same quality of medicine. At AAHA-accredited clinics, however, the use of anesthesia monitoring equipment is mandatory, which provides clients with a level of assurance that their pets are receiving the best care possible.
There are approximately 3,000 veterinary clinics in North America that have earned AAHA accreditation. Accreditation shows clients that the clinic or hospital has met high standards of excellence set by experienced veterinary professionals.
Trusting your veterinary team is easier to do when you know the clinic is accredited. The AAHA plaque is a fast way to identify high-quality clinics.
This article originally appeared in PetsMatter Volume 2 Issue 4, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. Copyright © 2009 AAHA. Find out more.