Big attendance at emergency and critical care congress

01 December 2010, at 12:00am

CLOSE to 550 veterinary surgeons, nurses and exhibitors attended the 7th Emergency and Critical Care Congress run by Vets Now in Harrogate last month. The number of veterinary surgeons was well over 200.

There had been doubt about the use of the customary venue, the Majestic Hotel, following a fire in May which caused extensive damage but apart from a loss of bedrooms necessitating many delegates having to stay in nearby hotels, the congress was able to use all the usual facilities.

The event started with the annual awards ceremony for staff, recognising outstanding achievements in nine different categories, followed by two full days of lectures and workshops – starting at 8.30am each day.

The main themes were ultrasound and trauma. Keynote speakers included Sophie Adamantos, lecturer in emergency and critical care medicine at the RVC; Dr Matt Beal, associate professor of emergency and critical care medicine at Michigan State University; veterinary technician Alison Gottlieb, who chairs the continuing education committee for the New Jersey Veterinary Technician Association; and Dr Jennifer Devey, a diplomate of the American College of Emergency and Critical Care, who writes and lectures extensively; and Paul Mahoney from the Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service.

A number of senior Vets Now staff were among the lecturers: Amanda Boag, clinical director; Professor Stuart Carmichael, director of referral services; Richard Coe and Yvonne McGrotty, from the Vets Now referral hospital in Glasgow; and David Smith and Andrew Parker from head office who discussed “communications techniques”, with the emphasis on how to make better use of websites, and “how to get a good work-life balance”.

There were three lecture streams for both veterinary surgeons and nurses on Thursday, with an advanced stream on the Friday designed for those with more extensive experience in ECC.

A session on evidence-based veterinary medicine drew a small audience. It began with a presentation from Dr Rachel Dean, director of the Centre for Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine at the Nottingham veterinary school, who asked “Why do you do what you do?”

She went on to say that there was a dearth of evidence for veterinary emergency and critical care work with a lot of the methods used based on human work and not validated for veterinary patients.

Dr North said it was important to: critically appraise the evidence that is available and make a critical assessment of its quality and relevance; identify the ‘holes” in the knowledge base; understand the limitations of current evidence and don’t over- interpret results; and admit “we don’t know” when evidence is lacking.

She finished by calling on all veterinary surgeons to get involved in evidence-based research.

Dr North was followed by Amanda Boag who discussed steroid use. Acknowledging that the evidence base was limited, she went through the evidence for and against the use of steroids in various groups of critically ill animals. One of her conclusions was that, according to the evidence gleaned so far, corticosteroids should not be used routinely in the treatment of head injury.

Richard Coe was the final speaker in this session and he discussed antibiotic therapy and wound management, especially in relation to surgical site infections. He noted that there were some serious difficulties in using an evidence-based medicine approach when considering these as many of the interventions had never been tested in randomised double- blind controlled clinical trials because they were too well established. In addition, the rate of such infections in “clean” surgery was very low.

The key gap in our knowledge, he said, is the incidence of infection following surgery in the general practice environment.

  • The exhibition at the congress was the largest ever with more than 40 stands and quite a number of names new to the event.