Veterinary Anaesthetic Monitoring:
A UK study that looked at factors that influence anaesthetic death rates in companion animals showed anaesthetic monitoring had a positive effect on the reduction of patient mortality. Just who fills this role will depend on the veterinary practice. For the vast majority, it will be a veterinary nurse or animal technician. Trained veterinary anaesthetists tend to be restricted to universities or specialist veterinary practices. This is not to say that our nurses and technicians are any less effective in their role as many are highly trained and very experienced.
In the vast majority of veterinary practices, anaesthetic monitoring couples human observation with data produced by sophisticated electrical monitors. A skilled person can still gather adequate information to ensure the patient remains safe without the aid of a monitor. Technology may ultimately develop to the point where humans are no longer needed to monitor and adjust patient anaesthesia. Until that time, the role of the person monitoring the anaesthetised patient is critical. They are the one who observe subtle changes that may indicate patient deterioration.
The following U-Tube video is an interesting insight into anaesthetic monitoring and outlines some of the most significant factors associated with anaesthesia.
Patient monitoring parameters include heart rate and rhythm, respiration rate, oxygen & expiratory CO2 levels, eye position, capillary refill time, body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, anaesthetic depth, jaw tone, and pain response. These are usually measured every 5 minutes (electronic monitors provide perpetual monitoring). Most practices use a patient monitoring sheet of some description (Anaesthetic Pro includes an individualised form that can be printed for each patient).
The following links provide excellent information on the process of anaesthetic monitoring along with the various monitoring modalities: