What Is An Emergency and Critical Care Specialist?
A board certified specialist in emergency and critical care is a veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in treating life-threatening conditions.
An emergency and critical care specialist can help in the following kinds of cases, among others:
- Traumatic injury (including fractures, bite wounds, burns, lacerations)
- Respiratory emergencies (including cases in which the use of ventilators is needed) Animals in need of blood transfusions Animals that are in shock
- Animals with life threatening neurologic disease, such as coma or severe seizures
While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems and handle many routine emergencies, certain situations may require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in handling emergency and critical care for your pet. An emergency and critical care specialist typically works in tandem with your general practitioner veterinarian on a referral basis, as well as with any other needed specialists, until the emergency is resolved.
How Can I Find A Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care for My Pet?
If your veterinarian does not handle after hours emergencies, then he or she probably already has a referral relationship in place with a local or regional emergency hospital. You can also look for emergency specialists in your area on the the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC) website. In addition, you can also check with any veterinary schools in your area to see if they have a fully staffed and equipped emergency room. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when and where to refer you and your pet for emergency or critical care is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.
When Does My Pet Need Emergency Care?
Any of the following situations can be considered an emergency:
- Difficulty breathing
- Ingestion of a foreign object or unknown substance
- Vomiting blood
- Blood in the feces or urine
- Swollen, hard abdomen that is painful to the touch
- Serious wound
- Suspected broken limb
- Any injury to the eye
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to move or sudden weakness
- Unusual or erratic behavior
- Signs of extreme pain, such as whining or shaking
- Straining to urinate (especially a male cat)
- Labor that does not progress
- Signs of heatstroke
What Is Critical Care?
While an emergency is unfolding, or throughout recovery from a serious illness or accident, ongoing diagnostic and therapeutic care and constant monitoring of your pet's condition may be required. Many emergency and critical care facilities offer 24-hour supervision of critically ill pets and, just as in human hospitals, may have dedicated Intensive Care and Critical Care Units (ICU/CCU). Such facilities are equipped to provide oxygen therapy, cardiac monitoring, blood transfusions, and nutritional support. Such facilities also typically have advanced diagnostic capabilities onsite, such as ultrasound and echocardiography.
Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?
Many emergency hospitals work on a referral basis with general practitioners. In some cases, your pet will only be referred to the emergency service for after hours care. In other cases, your pet may be in the care of the emergency and critical care specialist for the duration of the emergency and recovery, but then referred back to your general practitioner veterinarian for follow up and routine care.
Did You Know?
There are more than 125 board-certified veterinary emergency and critical care specialists in the U.S. today and it is the fastest growing specialty in the profession.