UMN animal trauma center modeled on human version

by Jolene Craig

By using human trauma centers as a model, the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center recently launched the nations first animal trauma center.

The Animal Trauma Center has been in the making for roughly six decades as part of the programs animal hospital, according to Dr. David Lee, director of the Veterinary Medical Center.

"We based our center on the human model regulations in order to provide faster, more efficient care for animal traumas," Lee said. "Weve been taking care of trauma patients for about 60 years and decided to take it to the next level."

The center provides services within the Minneapolis/St. Paul region and was developed to leverage the expertise and capabilities of the centers board-certified specialists. This utilization will provide team-based immediate care for trauma patients.

"Like human trauma centers, the trauma center designation shows that we have a large number of resources as well as the ability to deliver medical care to serious trauma cases," Lee said.

Because the care components are similar in a human hospital, the center operates a 24-hour intensive care unit, on-site blood bank, in-house clinical pathology laboratory and a veterinary imaging center with MRI and CT machines.

This new service, which cares mainly for pets, is not a separate facility from the universitys veterinary medical center, but includes an improved electronic records system. This augmented system provides for the trauma committee to review individual cases and outcomes to recommend changes in the availability of resources to further improve patient care.

By using this new system, the centers emergency and critical care veterinarians are able to work more closely with board-certified specialists in 15 veterinary medical specialties to provide a higher standard of care.

"The majority of animal hospitals are equipped to handle common emergencies during regular hours and some are available to provide those services after hours," Lee said. "The University of Minnesota’s Animal Trauma Center is unique in that we’re able to quickly mobilize the critical resources needed to meet the needs of trauma patients."

Trauma cases include injuries from vehicle accidents, falls, bite wounds and smoke or chemical inhalation. The center also provides care to area police department K-9 units four-legged officers injured in the line of duty.

As for a change in the universitys veterinary medical centers educational system, Lee said he expects papers to be written about how the center is working, but there may be little change to classes.

"We will make a few adjustments in the curriculum, but outside of that, Im not sure what we will be doing," he said.

Lee said that the model the center uses has garnered attention from other veterinary programs throughout the nation.

"Were really excited because there are least five other university animal hospitals looking at using our model for their facilities," he said. "The more (trauma) centers that open across the country means a stronger, better standard of veterinary care."