Veterinary trauma centers come with equipment and staff not found at the typical vet’s office: the ability to give blood transfusions, surgeons who can repair more severely or more complicated broken bones or soft tissue, neurologists who can help with the management of cases in which there is severe injury to the brain, radiologists who can interpret images, anesthesiologists for dogs who are more unstable during operations due to the extent of their injuries, and so on. But how do you find such a center?
The Veterinary Committee on Trauma, or VetCOT, which comes under the auspices of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, has begun to compile a list. To make the list, a veterinary hospital has to apply. To then be approved, a trauma center not only has to have the right staff and equipment but also a system in place whereby it tracks every single trauma case that comes to the hospital, from admission to discharge. That informs an international registry from which data can be pooled to see what procedures work best under what circumstances. And it will let those in the veterinary arena know how veterinarians at regular family practices can train to be ready for a trauma case when a trauma center is not nearby.
Right now, there are only 26 trauma centers on the list, and they are not designated by whether they’re Level I or II. But that number is expected to grow each year, and verification of which level of trauma center will eventually be added, too. To have a look, google “Veterinary Trauma Centers vetcot,” and then click on the second item that comes up. (The website has a very long URL, which is why we suggest you just google or bing it.) Scroll all the way down to the bottom to click on the last entry at the left: “Veterinary Trauma Centers-MAP.” Then, on the page that comes up, click on the underlined word, “Map” near the top. Currently, all the centers listed have been added between the years 2013 and 2015, and they will soon increase. And as smaller practices become apprised of best practices for trauma care through the Veterinary Trauma Initiative, they’ll be better able to handle the most severe cases that come through the door, even if they’re not a large animal hospital.