“Veterinary emergency and critical care” is a phrase that is given to the areas of medicine that pertain to the care, response and management of life threatening and critical situations in animals. It is also one of the fastest growing specialties in veterinary medicine. It is most often lumped together as two specialties joined as one. Veterinary emergency and critical care focuses on the immediate needs of a severely ill and/or injured animal. The management of the critical medical and surgical patient, beyond the primary problem, is a responsibility of this specialty.
A wide spectrum of illnesses, injuries, and toxicities ranging from acute organ conditions to severe trauma, are experienced by animal patients. Veterinary emergency and critical care incorporates all organ systems and associated functions, anatomical structures, physiology, and pathophysiology. Core areas of emergency and critical care medicine include pain management, mechanical/positive pressure ventilation, transfusion medicine, coagulation disorders, fluid and colloidal therapy, CPR and cardio-respiratory disorders, sepsis and antimicrobial use, trauma management, and acute plant and chemical toxicities.
Large 24 hour emergency practices are not the only ones that need to be well versed on how to manage life threatening emergencies. General practices also need to know what to do if an emergency patient comes through the door. A practice may only see a cardiac arrest once in a great while, but the entire staff needs to know what to do when it does.