Tufts animal hospital chosen for trauma center program
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 07:09
The American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC) has designated the Tufts Foster Hospital for Small Animals (FHSA) as one of the first Level 1 Veterinary Trauma Centers in the country as part of a program launched to advance trauma knowledge and standards in animal care.
The animal hospital, located at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, was chosen, along with nine other clinics last spring, to participate in a yearlong program promoting research on, and protocols for, veterinary trauma. The program is an effort spearheaded by the Veterinary Committee on Trauma (VetCOT) and aims to create a national network of centers specializing in animal trauma, according to Executive Secretary of ACVECC Armelle de Laforcade.
“Our goal is to promote research in veterinary trauma and create protocols that allow us to treat patients based on their injuries,” de Laforcade, who works as a critical care veterinarian at the Cummings School, said.
According to de Laforcade, the FHSA provides referral care for animals that have not yet seen a vet and to refer animals for advanced diagnostics or procedures.
“What’s different about our center is that we have a large emergency and critical care [unit],” de Laforcade said.
Under the new designation, protocols for animal trauma will eventually be developed into a system that mirrors the procedures in place for people, de Laforcade explained.
“Trauma for people is divided into Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 trauma centers based on how injured you are,” she said. “Care will be optimized according to the severity of the injury. We hope to also have that in veterinary medicine, so vets who have these patients know what level trauma center they need to send their patients to.”
Currently, only Level 1 trauma centers exist in veterinary medicine, de Laforcade said. Selection as a Level 2 center means that support must be available 24 hours a day and that mechanisms are in place to keep accurate data records of all trauma cases seen, she said.
“[The new designation] makes you reevaluate your infrastructure, makes you consider what we need to have in place in order to have the best care,” de Laforcade said. “[It] allows you to provide more consistent protocol -driven care for the most severely traumatized patients.”
De Laforcade said that last year the center saw 8,000 emergencies. On average, there are between 15 and 18 emergencies a day during the week and between 20 and 30 a day on weekends. The center is open seven days a week, and there are always two doctors in the hospital at any given time.
“We have the capacity to manage anything,” de Laforcade said.
The center also collects data and provides a database of information for multi-center veterinary trauma research, according to de Laforcade.
“One of our goals is to promote veterinary research on trauma so we can better understand and study injuries and treatment of those injuries, “ she said.
Veterinary studies tend to be much smaller than those for human medicine, making new veterinary data all the more important, according to de Laforcade. Data becomes more valuable when the number of subjects enrolled is higher and there is more information to gather, she said.
“We commit to entering all of our trauma cases into our database,” de Laforcade said. “Once you have a better sense of [certain] types of injuries, you have a better idea of how to treat them.”
Although the emergency room sees patients ranging from birds and rabbits to guinea pigs and ferrets, the trauma center is right now focusing its database research on dogs and cats, she added.