This article explores the subjects of quality improvement, patient safety and practice culture, and the relationships between them. These subjects are highly relevant to the care that patients receive — learning more about them can improve our ability to treat animals effectively. A positive practice culture is one that encourages civility, teamwork, a blame-free attitude to errors, and a learning approach for the whole team. Quality improvement is a mechanism to improve standards of care — it helps patient safety and supports a positive practice culture. Quality improvement can be defined as the combined efforts of the whole team to make changes that will lead to better patient outcomes, better system performance (care) and better professional development (learning). Quality improvement methods, such as clinical audits and significant event audits, and quality improvement tools such as guidelines, checklists and systems of work, can help veterinary practices to make a start with quality improvement, and engaging with these quality improvement tools can help improve patient safety and practice culture to benefit all team members.
Nursing clinics are an excellent time to provide information to prospective and current owners about their pets. Rabbits are an often-overlooked pet and encouraging rabbit owners to attend nurse-led rabbit clinics can help to correct any underlying husbandry issues to prevent disease. Subtle signs of ill health can also be identified during nursing clinics, resulting in reduced morbidity. Of particular note, geriatric rabbit clinics should be performed frequently, as geriatric rabbits are more prone to developing disease compared with their younger counterparts.
Canine cataract formation is a commonly presented condition in first opinion practice. With the advancements in medical knowledge and the availability of surgical correction registered veterinary nurses are becoming increasing involved in their management and the education of owners. This article aims to discuss the aeitology of canine cataracts, the management options available and the role of veterinary nurses in these cases.
Behaviour cases are common in general practice and veterinary nurses can play a vital role in their identification and management. Full behavioural assessment and implementation of a behaviour modification protocol remains essential, but increasingly animals may also be prescribed psychoactive medications. This second of three articles focuses on the use of short-acting behaviourally-active medication in dogs and cats. This is particularly relevant to veterinary nurses because they are very likely to encounter animals that will benefit from short-acting medication either to facilitate handling in the veterinary surgery or to help them cope with other potentially scary situations such as being groomed or exposed to loud noises such as fireworks/thunderstorms. The most commonly-used short-acting behaviourally active drugs were outlined in Part 1. This article focuses on the decision-making process that will be needed when choosing the most appropriate short-acting behaviourally active drugs for individual animals.
Growth represents a fundamental phase in a cat or dog's life and plays an important role in their life-long health. Energy intake influences not just bodyweight (both weight gain and loss), but also the rate of growth and even the success of reproduction. This article will take an in-depth look at the changing energy needs of cats and dogs from conception to adulthood and the role weight plays in supporting optimal growth.
Endotracheal intubation is performed for general anaesthesia, critical care, and emergency situations. As the veterinary surgeon often performs this procedure, it may be under-developed, or minimally practiced by veterinary nurses (VNs) despite being legal to perform in several countries. As an emergency skill, and as the role of VNs grows, this article aims to act as a resource for VNs wanting to learn to perform endotracheal intubation correctly. This article will only review the purpose of endotracheal intubation, the relevant anatomy and physiology, equipment, techniques, and troubleshooting. It will not offer a detailed comparison of endotracheal intubation versus laryngeal mask airway, nor will it discuss the technique for endotracheal tube cuff inflation as the full scope of published data, experiences and opinions could not be given due justice: moreover, this is an area of the skill VNs are already familiar with. Maintenance of the in-situ tube and extubation are also excluded and all of these subjects warrant further discussion in a separate article.
The clinical environment of a veterinary practice relies on personal protective equipment (PPE) for infection and biosecurity control, especially in areas such as the operating theatre room, dental suites and isolation wards. PPE places a barrier between staff and exposure risk and helps prevent the spread of pathogens between animals and staff. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks were mainly required in clinical areas that posed the highest risk. However, as a result of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, being spread by airborne transmission, face masks have been worn throughout all areas of practice, reducing the emission of the virus carrying particles when worn by an infected person. This article discusses the evidence-based research for the effectiveness of face coverings in the control of the spread of COVID-19. It also considers the social and psychological impacts to veterinary staff, clients and patients with doing so. Information on COVID-19 was gathered from government and scientific studies and research conducted by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and Dogs Trust relating to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on animals and veterinary nurses.
The Animal Cancer Trust aims to be the first port of call for owners of pets with cancer, and their veterinary surgeons and nurses. Chief executive and veterinary epidemiologist Vicki Adams explains what the charity does and how you can get involved.