Thursday, February 22, 2018

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Anesthesia Safety Precautions

If you have ever had your pet under anesthesia at our hospital, you know that we do not take anesthesia lightly.  However, many people don’t realize what we do or why we do it.  This past week gave us a perfect example of why we require these safety measures for anesthetic procedures.  Before I get into the details, I would like to point out the following: This case is an extreme example and is NOT the normal.  In the last 5 years, we have done over 1600 dental procedures on cats and dogs without one anesthetic death.

A dog came in recently for a dental procedure.  We had him under anesthesia for his cleaning and full mouth radiographs (x-rays) to fully assess his dental problems.  While I started to extract his diseased teeth, the heart monitor stopped.  One of our registered veterinary technicians immediately checked on him and confirmed that his heart was no longer beating, nor was he breathing.  We immediately gave him IV medications to get his heart going and started breathing for him.  At the same time we shut off the anesthesia and stayed by his side physically monitoring him along with all of our monitoring equipment for the next hour until he was stable.  He recovered uneventfully after this and went home later in the day.

What would have happened if we didn’t take these precautions?

What if he was not hooked up to our monitoring equipment? We would not have recognized the problem as quickly as we did and wouldn’t have been able to respond immediately.

What if we did not have a registered veterinary technician who is extremely capable right there by his side? Again, we might not have recognized the problem until it was too late.

Why do we require an IV catheter? In this situation, time is of the essence.  Hitting his tiny little vein for two separate injections under these circumstances would have been very difficult at best.  We also would not have been able to give him extra IV fluids to get his blood pressure back up either.  By the time we would have given him these drugs it may have been too late.

We are required by AAHA to have a “crash kit” together. This kit contains all of our drugs and items needed in the case of an emergency.  In this case, both injectable drugs we needed were easily available with the doses already calculated.  This saved valuable time in a situation where every second counted.

As I stated at the beginning of the article, we take anesthesia very seriously.  Because of the precautions we take and the safety measures we require, a disaster was averted and this pet is home and happy with his owners today.  Although this is a rare occurrence, it can happen, and by being prepared and cautious we can make sure anesthesia for your pet is as safe as possible.



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