Veterinary medical care is advancing and guidelines are available for a vast array of conditions, issues and procedures. Standards make sense, but are practices readily adopting them? VHMA asked its members. Based on a sample population of 113, 83% reported that their facility has written medical standards in place. A surprising percentage (17%), indicated that the practice has no written standards.
Practices are most likely to adopt standards for: vaccination recommendations (86%), pre-anesthetic testing (80%), surgical monitoring (73%), and heartworm test recommendations (72%).
Practices are not as likely to adhere to standards for: CBC/chemistry frequency recommendations (48%), microchipping recommendations (48%), other canine/feline specific diagnostic testing (42%), and nutrition recommendations (35%).
Among practices with standards, approximately 50% identified more than a dozen procedures covered by guidelines, including: history taking, pain management, vaccinations, physician exam frequency, what to include in the physical exam, fecal exam recommendations, heartworm tests, flea and tick prevention, pre-anesthetic testing, surgical monitoring, patient body temperature monitoring, and spay/neutering.
What guidelines did respondents say were missing in the practice? They listed:nutrition recommendations (42%), pain management (36%), CBC/Chemistry frequency (36%), other regular canine/feline specific diagnostic testing (32%) and history taking (32%).
Staff: Are You In?
When staff agrees and supports the medical standards that the practice has adopted, there is a greater probability that the standards will be adhered to and implemented. Among survey respondents, 69% said that staff agreed with the standards. Among staff who agree with the standards, 60% of respondents reported that these staff members reinforces the standards consistently and 40% said that the standards are enforced sometimes.
Twenty-eight percent described staff acceptance of the standards as a “mixed bag”—some agree with them, others do not. Only 3% said that, in general, staff does not agree with the standards.
The majority of respondent (80%) say that their standards are consistent with or exceed AAHA/AVMA standards. Less than 3% described their standards as falling below these guidelines.
Medical standards are powerful tools that can be used to fine-tune practice performance, protect the health and safety of clients and provide clients with critical information about caring responsibly for their pet. Practices that have not adopted medical standards would be well-served by examining the ways in which the practice can benefit by implementing standards.