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Questions for your vet before anesthesia - "WHO will be monitoring my cat's anesthetic?"

When it comes to the anesthesia experience of our cats, their safety and well-being should be the top priority. This is why I have several posts discussing the important questions to ask your vet when your cat is going for an anesthetic, starting with this one. However, recent staff shortages in veterinary practices have raised concerns about who is responsible for monitoring our cats during anesthesia. I have had several conversations with friends recently who work in locum rolls and have reliably told me that anesthesia is regularly being monitored by unqualified staff members, such as animal nursing assistants. While these are essential and valuable staff members, they are not qualified to monitor anesthetics and do not have training to respond to changes that occur during anesthesia or to respond if something goes wrong.

There are may days when I am proud of the veterinary world and the vets and nurses all over the country who dedicate themselves to caring for animals. But there are also days that I am ashamed to work in an industry that hides so much from the owners we work with. This is one of those moments. Every vet and vet nurse in the country knows how unprofessional and dangerous this is, but when this happens they have made a choice to go ahead anyway. This choice is likely made out out desperation because of staff shortages, but that is simply not good enough. Would I put the life of my Chirpy in the hands of someone whose job it is to save his life if needed, but is not qualified to help him in that moment - absolutely not, and you shouldn't either.

In this blog post, I shed light on the critical importance of qualified monitoring staff and address the ethical and safety implications of entrusting anesthesia monitoring to unqualified individuals so you can demand more for your cat.
During anesthesia, close monitoring of a cat's vital signs, including heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels, is essential. Qualified monitoring staff including vets and vet nurses are trained to detect subtle changes, anticipate potential complications, and promptly intervene when necessary. Their expertise helps ensure the smooth and safe management of anesthesia.

When unqualified individuals are tasked with anesthesia monitoring, it poses significant risks to our cats. Without proper training, they may not recognize early signs of distress or respond effectively in critical situations. This can lead to delays in identifying complications, inadequate adjustments to anesthesia, and potential harm to our feline friends, including death.

Entrusting anesthesia monitoring to unqualified individuals raises ethical concerns. Anesthesia is a complex process that requires a comprehensive understanding of physiology, pharmacology, and emergency procedures. By allowing unqualified staff to monitor anesthesia, we compromise the welfare and safety of our cats, undermining the ethical responsibility of providing optimal care.

As cat owners, it is crucial to advocate for the presence of qualified monitoring staff during anesthesia. When scheduling a procedure, inquire about the qualifications of the individuals who will be responsible for monitoring your cat's vital signs. Ensure that they have received proper training and possess the necessary expertise to ensure your cat's safety.

Maintaining open and transparent communication with your veterinary team is vital. Discuss your concerns regarding anesthesia monitoring and inquire about the protocols in place to ensure qualified staff are available. A responsible and reputable veterinary practice should prioritise the presence of trained professionals for anesthesia monitoring.

The presence of qualified monitoring staff during a cat's anesthesia is paramount to their safety and well-being. Unqualified individuals should not be entrusted with such a crucial responsibility. As cat owners, it is our duty to advocate for the presence of qualified staff and ensure the ethical and safe management of anesthesia for our feline companions. When scheduling a procedure, be proactive in asking who will be monitoring your cat's anesthesia and ensure that only qualified individuals are entrusted with this crucial task. Together, we can prioritize the highest standards of care for our beloved feline friends. Wishing you and your cat a safe and comfortable veterinary experience!
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