Guide to Elective Surgeries
These days it's important to know what you are paying for, and veterinary medicine is no exception. How can the veterinary client determine how much a surgery is "worth" when the procedures appear to be the same everywhere? Why does one place appear to be cheap and another pricey?
You should know what is included in the "surgery" price, as this can make an enormous difference to your pet's experience and will allow you to compare apples to apples. Following are some question for you to consider and some suggested questions for the veterinarians who might be putting your beloved pet "under the knife".1. Will your pet get pain medication before the surgery starts? All pets deserve good pain management. Animals experience much better analgesia when there is pain medication on board before any pain is inflicted. A tranquilizer or sedative does not deal with pain, just anxiety.
2. Will your pet get blood pressure support and emergency IV access? Anesthetics and sedatives can cause very low blood pressure, which is partly countered by giving IV fluids. As well, an IV catheter allows the administration of drugs in an emergency. We hope that anesthetic emergencies never happen, but in the rare case that we do need to give emergency drugs an IV catheter is vital.
3. Will your pet get analgesics during surgery? Some veterinarians run an infusion of pain medications during surgery, which help make the pet more comfortable on awakening.
4. Is there a person dedicated to looking after your pet? An animal under anesthesia is hovering in a very dangerous place. It is vitally important that a trained person be monitoring your pet's parameters. It also is common sense that the person monitoring anesthesia is not the one performing the surgery!Registered Animal Health Technologists (RAHTs) are the best people to monitor anesthesia, in my opinion. RAHTs have had 2-3 years of college learning to do exactly this job and are highly skilled. Ask whether there is anyone monitoring the patients before, during and after surgery, and what kind of training and experience they've had. Ask to see a copy of the forms for anesthesia monitoring, and an example of a completed one.
5. What kind of beeping and pinging machines are used to monitor your pet's anesthetic experience? Nothing can replace the human factor of an RAHT, but what kind of equipment is available to determine whether you pet is in trouble? Is blood pressure monitored? Audible pulses? Blood oxygen? ECG? With the exception of blood pressure, which is vital for all situations, not all of these machines are indicated or useful in all surgeries, but clinics doing good anesthesia will do good monitoring.
6. Is a new, sterile instrument pack used for each and every surgery? In some clinics, especially those doing high volume, an instrument pack is shared between two or more patients. Your pet deserves the safety of an autoclaved instrument pack of his own
7. What kind of analgesics will be sent home with your pet? Any? Remember, a "spay" surgery sounds minor until you understand that it is a hysterectomy and removal of the ovaries. Does that sound like something you'd like to have done without any kind of pain control? How about a castration? (Didn't think so!)
For more information and questions you should ask before any anesthetic or surgical procedure for your pet, follow this link to "Guide to Veterinary Surgery".