6 Tips to Help Keep Patients Safe Under Anesthesia


Refining anesthesia protocols has been at the top of our to-do list since the American Animal Hospital Association released its anesthesia guidelines for dogs and cats. Patient safety is a primary goal for all anesthetists, so take a look at these tips from a recent VPN article to create a better experience for patients undergoing anesthesia.

1. Pay particular attention to the induction and recovery phases, as these are the most critical. According to a 2008 study reported in Veterinary Anesthesia & Analgesia, postoperative deaths accounted for 47% of deaths in dogs, 61% in cats and 64% in rabbits. Most other small animal species had higher mortality risks during the recovery phase. Patients need close monitoring while waking up and that special attention should be paid to pediatric and geriatric patients, patients with low body temperatures and those with unique anatomies, such as brachycephalic dogs.

2. Assign a qualified member of the veterinary staff to monitor patients recovering from anesthesia. Even a few minutes of unsupervised recovery may lead to major problems.

3. Designate a quiet area where anesthetic patients can recover peacefully. Recovering a patient in a quiet, low-light area with a way to heat the patient is imperative to a smooth recovery.

4. Tailor anesthetic protocols to each patient, including pre-medication and pain management. One size does not fit all when it comes to anesthetic drug selection.

5. Have the right tools and equipment for the job. A good stethoscope is probably the most obvious, and a means for measuring blood pressure is a must. Other equipment includes those that help maintain a patient’s body temperature. Even very short procedures under anesthesia can lead to significant decreases in core body temperature, which can prolong the recovery period. A proper heating support system will help prevent the unnecessary hypothermia typically encountered during anesthetic procedures.

6. Keep accurate anesthesia records for the medical records. Beyond the legal need of these documents, the staff can use them as case studies during training of new employees or refresher topics for existing staff.

To read Somyr McLean Perry’s entire article, go here

Ken writerKen Crump (kencrump.com) is a writer and animal anesthetist and writes Making Anesthesia Easier for Advanced Anesthesia Specialists.  He makes dozens of Continuing Education presentations on veterinary oncology and anesthesia across the United States and in Canada.  Ken retired from Colorado State University in 2008. 
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