Emergency & Critical Care

What is an emergency and critical care specialist?
A board certified specialist in emergency and critical care is a veterinarian who has obtained intensive training in treating life-threatening conditions.

What additional training does an emergency and critical care specialist have?
Veterinarians who want to become board certified in emergency and critical care medicine must seek additional training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing.  Specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC).  A veterinarian who has received this specialty status will list the initials DACVECC after their name in addition to DVM and may indicate that they are a Diplomate of the ACVECC.  The word Diplomate typically means the specialist has achieved the following:
• Obtained a veterinary degree (three to four years of college plus four years of veterinary school).
• Completed a one-year internship at a veterinary teaching hospital.
• Completed a three year residency of advanced training in emergency medicine, surgery, and critical care at a veterinary teaching hospital.  Residents train with some of the best specialists in the field and obtained hands on experience.  This training focuses on the most up to date techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of life threatening disease processes or injuries.
• Passed a rigorous examination.

After completing and passing all of these requirements, the veterinarian is then recognized by his or her peers as a board certified specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care.

What does an emergency and critical care specialist do?
An emergency and critical care specialist provides primary case management or supervision and guidance of emergency doctors in emergency stabilization and intensive management of acutely injured or critically ill patients.  Some illnesses require several days of therapy before improvement is noted, so close attention to all aspects of treatment of the disease process and specialized monitoring under the supervision of a critical care specialist provides the best chance for a positive outcome.
The critical care specialist acts as the patient’s advocate in identifying all reasonable diagnostic and treatment options, gaining an accurate prognosis, and administering advanced life support.  They also facilitate the family’s decision-making process by coordinating consultations and information obtained from the primary care veterinarian, emergency doctor, and other specialists.

What medical conditions can benefit from an Emergency and Critical Care Specialist?
• Trauma
– hit by car
– head trauma
– bite wounds
– burns
– crush injury
• Sepsis (severe infection)
• Heart failure
• Kidney failure
• Liver failure
• Respiratory failure (trouble breathing)
• Toxin ingestion
• Blood clotting disorders
• Immune-mediated diseases
• Seizures
• Chemotherapy reactions
• Fluid build-up in the chest, abdomen, or around the heart
• Envenomation
– snake
– spider
– bees

Diagnostics and procedures performed by an Emergency and Critical Care Specialist:
• Advanced Intravenous fluid therapy
• Advanced techniques for pain management
• Advanced techniques in anesthesia
• Blood transfusions
• Oxygen administration
• Mechanical ventilation (use of respirators)
• Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and post-resuscitation life support
• Blood gas analysis
• Identification and acute management of abnormal heart rhythms
• Wound management
• Emergency surgery
• Blood pressure monitoring and the use of medications to control blood pressure
• On-site blood testing
• Advanced nursing care

The integration of all the hospitals services is a major advantage for the patient as veterinary medicine continues to become more advanced.  The primary care (or referring) veterinarian has a very important role in the care of critical patients by offering their client’s referral to VESC and providing follow-up or long-term care where necessary.  We make communication with the client and primary care veterinarian a top priority when their patients are with the critical care service.

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