HSVMA Field Services to Benefit from Veterinary Student's Study

May 9, 2011

by Annie Wayne

During my first HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services (HSVMA-RAVS) trip to the Hoopa Reservation in California, I was immediately struck by the large case load of patients and the meticulous and uniform system of medical record keeping that the staff kept. It was during this trip that I also thought to create a study—using the data the HSVMA-RAVS team collected—that could improve the care of patients, as well as the medical decisions being made by pet owners and veterinary practitioners, both in the field clinics as well as in private practice.

This puppy may be at higher risk for surgical complications.
Annie Wayne

Last summer, I had the opportunity to participate in a second trip, this time to the Colville and Quinault Reservations in Washington. During that trip, a high-risk feline patient had a major complication following her spay surgery—she was hemorrhaging and had developed a hemoabdomen.

I was amazed and impressed with the team of veterinarians, technicians and students who worked late into the night to surgically repair the complication and restore her blood volume through an auto-transfusion. In the debriefing and case rounds that followed, I found myself wondering what the complication rate was in animals seen by the HSVMA-RAVS team.

Assessing the risk will help future patients

During the clinics, the team is often required to perform elective sterilization procedures on patients with a greater risk of complications—pediatrics and those who are in heat, pregnant or post-partum. Were the complication rates higher in these patients than in patients who did not fall into the aforementioned category?

This year, we will be collecting data and comparing complication rates in high vs. low risk patients. By identifying specific risk factors and classifying patients with an increased risk prior to surgery, we can improve the informed consent given by the pet owners, and most importantly, we can improve our protocols to reduce future surgical complications.

In doing so, we will accomplish our ultimate goal—to provide the best possible care to the many animals that we serve both on and off the Rez.

Annie Wayne is a veterinary student in the class of 2011 at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University.